Bitterly cold winter temperatures draw hundreds of people to the Lake of the Woods every February.
While spectators may call them crazy, they, lined up with their friends and often in costumes, call themselves plungers.
But they are also there for one cause, to raise money for the Special Olympics through the annual Polar Plunge event.
For a $100 donation to the Special Olympics, plungers gather with their friends and family to run into the waters of frigid lakes all around the Midwest.
This year’s Lake of the Woods Polar Plunge will be held on February 24. Registration for the Plunge begins at 10 a.m. The plunge will start at noon.
So far, 147 people have registered online to collect donations for the cause.
Plungers will receive incentive prizes based on the amount of money they raise.
By raising the minimum of $100, plungers receive an official Plunge hooded sweatshirt. Cash prizes are also awarded at the $250, $500 and $1,000 levels.
Funds raised from the Polar Plunge benefit Special Olympics Illinois Easter Prairie/Area 8, which serves athletes with intellectual disabilities in six Central Illinois counties.
The money raised helps Area 8 purchase medals, ribbons, facility fees, equipment, t-shirts and meals for the athletes. Area 8 pays $120 to $150 per athlete to participate.
The Special Olympics programming helps the youth develop physically while providing a safe environment for them to develop friendships.
To volunteer with the Special Olympics in Central Illinois, contact Vanessa Duncan.