Nearly 200 jump in a lake for frigid fundraiser
- Created on Sunday, 05 February 2012 00:35
- Written by Aaron Linn
A polar plunger high-fives a firefighter in the frigid water of Prospect Lake during a Saturday fundraiser. Christian Murdock, The Gazette
BY RYAN MAYE HANDY
Their faces covered in camouflage paint and their bodies decked out in swimsuits and gym shorts, the First Commandos were ready to do battle on Saturday afternoon with a lake of frigid water.
Ray Parnell, his 12-year-old daughter Lila and the three other First Commandos had a simple plan of attack for the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for the Special Olympics of Colorado at Memorial Park. “You go in, get wet, get out,” Parnell said.
Parnell is a financial adviser for First Command, a company that helps military and law enforcement members with financial planning. As he danced on the sandy Prospect Lake beach to keep warm, Parnell, who isn't a novice to the plunge, said he knew exactly how the icy water would feel.
“Like being a pincushion,” he said. “A thousand needles going into your body.”
Parnell’s team was one of 30 dashing into the 36-degree water only to quickly zoom out and make a beeline for the nearby warming tents. The event raised between $30,000 and $40,000, said organizer Georgeann Kulton.
As the First Commandos stood on deck, next in the line for the plunge, the event’s announcer tried to keep the plungers’ spirits up.
“The bad news is the temperature is 32 degrees,” he said. “The good news is the water’s warmer — at 36 degrees. Like a warm bath.”
When their turn came, the First Commandos barreled into the water, splashing the faces of two bobbing firefighters in diving gear, Jay Martin and Brian Koontz, who were ready to rescue frozen swimmers.
Unlike other teams, the First Commandos decided to frolic with a beach ball before getting out of the lake.
“They’re playing volleyball?” the master of ceremonies said incredulously.
Anyone taking a dip in February lake water runs the risk of hypothermia, which could result in death if someone's body temperature gets too low, said fire department Lt. Brian Vaughan.
Vaughan, who watched the plunge from the beach, said hypothermia makes people lose their “mental capabilities.”
Some would say the 190 people who registered to take the plunge had already lost them.
Contact Ryan Maye Handy: 636-0261
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