The Mat-Su Polar Plunge – Lowering Temps and Raising Funds
For years people have cut a big hole in the ice of Finger Lake in Wasilla. Participants have dressed up in costume, or dressed down to almost nothing and decided to jump into that hole. Their motivations are pure–the motivations of their donors, possibly sinister. It may seem more reasonable to just give money to a cause and everyone stay warm and dry. But what fun would that be?
Not everyone leaps off the platform with ease. Some jumpers figuratively freeze up and can’t make the leap. Some are in the water before the announcer calls their name. Not all jumpers jump in the same, but the common denominator is the confused and slightly frightened expression on their faces as they pop above the surface.
Surprisingly, the jumpers aren’t all just local Mat-Su residents looking for something fun to do on the weekend. Jumpers represented different towns from across the state. Some from outside of Alaska ventured here for the Mat-Su Polar Plunge from as far away as Texas and Florida and Hawaii. As if Hawaii wasn’t far enough, a group of Rotary exchange students representing the countries of Brazil, Austria and South Africa joined in on the cause.
For Noah, a Rotary exchange student visiting Alaska from Brazil, this was his first time on a frozen lake. Noah’s face was lit up with anticipation as he stood on the platform. He sailed through the air and belly flopped with a splashy crescendo into the open water. In one swift motion, Noah was up the ladder, down the wet plank, detoured by falling off the plank into the snow, quickly returned to his feet and ran inside the Elks Lodge entrance as his jump partner, Les Helfrich, was still climbing out of the water.
The Mat-Su Polar Plunge is put on by the Mat-Su Sertoma Club. Sertoma’s purpose is to “serve our communities and improve the lives of those who need help. Our mission and our passion is to improve the quality of life for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss through education and support.”
The 2017 Mat-Su Polar Plunge raised $8,996.00 and is using the funds to send Alyssa Akers, a Colony High School student who was born deaf and the first jumper at the event, to attend Gallaudet University’s Summer Youth Camp ‘Discover Your Future’ in Washington D.C.
Frigid faces with chattering teeth later turned into big smiles and feelings of accomplishment. With onlookers bundled up in their winter coats, participants stripped down and jumped in for a great cause.
We’ve added an album to our Facebook page highlighting all of the jumpers and everyone in attendance. Check it out and feel free to tag those you know!