Getting cold for a cause
By JUDY SHERARD
Their costumes varied, but all of the Polar Plunge participants sported goose bumps Saturday morning.
The fourth annual Polar Plunge at America's Best Value Inn is spearheaded by the Hays Police Department, and is an offshoot of the Law Enforcement Torch Run that began in 1981.
Bill Lovewell is a member of the committee that organizes the event, as well as a member of the "What a Hoot" team.
"It takes a lot of people to put it on," he said.
Several members have been helping since the event started, said Carolyn Scantlin, a committee member for three years.
"We get fantastic cooperation from the hotel and the city," she said.
It's the largest and most popular fundraising event for the organization with proceeds benefitting the Special Olympics Kansas athletes.
A number of spectators lined the fence to watch the teams take the icy plunge.
Last year 39 hearty souls took the plunge and raised between $3,000 to $4,000.
Carrico Implement was the top fundraising team, raising $1,120.
This year Ethan Lamont, Cody Rehmer and Grant Brown made up the Carrico team, calling themselves the "Polar Plungers."
The three are current and former employees.
"I've got a plunger on my head. That pretty much says it all," Lamont said.
Rather than the standard leap, the three did cannonballs into the hotel pool.
It didn't make it any warmer, however, as the three team members came out shivering and hurrying to towel off.
Newsboy caps and cardboard cars painted taxi-cab yellow with air fresheners dangling were part of the NYC cabbies team costumes.
The team won best costume the past two years.
"We have props every year," said team member Dana Ellis.
Other team members are Stacy Lovewell, Bill Lovewell's daughter, Robin Armbrister and Rodney Armbrister.
Rodney Armbrister managed to take the plunge and come out of the water with the toothpick in his mouth soggy but intact.
The group, except for Robin Armbrister, has participated every year.
She said she thought they were crazy to take a dip in the middle of winter.
"I worked the first year," said Robin Armbrister, a nurse. "I was waiting for them in intensive care."
Last year they talked her into joining them, and she found it was fun.
Lori Lovewell joins her husband Bill serving on the committee.
She can't swim, so she helps with set up and clean up after the lunch served with a freewill donation, she said.
Prizes are awarded for best costume, as an individual and team and for individuals and teams raising the most money.
"We come up with fun gag awards," said Brenda Meder.
Meder, Hays Police Chief Don Scheibler and Mike Konz served as judges for the event.
"They get wet. It's not like they put their toe in. Some of them get real wet," Meder said.