Lake Mendota to host 2020 Polar Plunge Feb. 29

A team of “Where’s Waldo” lookalikes gathers their courage before entering the icy water at Lake Mendota during the 2019 Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. This year’s event will take place at Lake Mendota on Saturday, Feb. 29. (Reporter photo)

All money raised helps support Special Olympics of Illinois

MENDOTA – Ready to try something new in 2020? This year’s Polar Plunge at Lake Mendota is the perfect opportunity to make a splash while contributing to a good cause.

The 2020 Polar Plunge will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29. Presented by the Law Enforcement Torch Run and GEICO, this is a fun way to support Special Olympics of Illinois by taking a quick dip the chilly water of Lake Mendota.

Kristine Shan is the 2020 Plunge Ambassador. Shan is a student at Hall High School and has participated in Special Olympics for nine years. She participates in bowling, basketball, bocce, track, softball and long jump.

The funds raised from the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge will benefit over 1,750 athletes that train and compete within Region A.

There are already more than 100 people registered for the plunge. Teams from LaSalle-Peru High School, Hall High School, Streator High School, Mendota High School, Mendota Police Department, Princeton Police Department, DePue Police Department, District 17 State Police, Sterling Police Department and many more have committed to taking the plunge on Feb. 29 in Mendota in support of the local athletes.

How to Participate

Think you have what it takes? The concept is simple: each participant must raise a minimum of $100 in donations from friends, family and co-workers in exchange for taking a winter swim in the lake. Anyone can plunge – young or old – but only registered plungers will be allowed in the water.

Individuals under the age of 18 are able to participate but must have a parent or guardian sign a waiver form. No one of any age is allowed to be carried into the water.

Wondering what to wear? Anything goes, except a wetsuit. Shoes are recommended (no flip flops) and participants are encouraged to add to the fun by dressing in costume. Remember to bring a towel to dry off and warm clothes to wear after the plunge.

Plungers are welcome to form or join a team. (Teams must consist of at least five plungers.) Banners and signs are also welcome.

The Polar Plunge will have awards for the Cool Schools (K thru 12), Plunge Teams, Law Enforcement Teams and Best Costume.

All plungers will receive an official Polar Plunge hooded sweatshirt (available on a first-come, first-served basis the day of the plunge; those who do not receive a sweatshirt that day will have one mailed to them later).

Those raising $250 will also receive the choice of a Journey Cooler Backpack, Premium Valour Beach Towel or 15-ounce Espy Black Matte Bistro Mug; $500 – choice of a 4-piece White Marble Coaster Set, Port Authority Colorback Value Fleece Jacket (men’s/women’s) or Under Armour Flex Fit Curved Bill Solid Baseball Cap; and $1,000 - choice of a Standard Size Stonehouse Sweatshirt Blanket, Under Armour Qualifier 1/4 Zip (men’s/women’s) or an authentic YETI 26-ounce Bottle.

In addition, plungers will receive an entry into the grand prize drawing for every $500 and $1,000 they raise.

Check-in for the fourth annual plunge at Lake Mendota will take place from 10:30 a.m.-noon on Saturday, Feb. 29 at the Mendota Civic Center. Plunges will start at noon.

Plungers may register at Registration must be completed by 11:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28. For more information, contact Allison Nichols at (815) 220-8128 or [email protected]

People wishing to support a plunger with a monetary donation may also do so on the website.

Over the past 21 years, more than 78,000 plungers have raised more than $22 million. Those ready to #beboldgetcold this winter are invited to join the conversation and share on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. GEICO is proud to be the Statewide Presenting Polar Plunge sponsor.

Local sponsors for this event are WAJK (99.3, 96.5), City of Mendota, Mendota Fire Department, Mendota Police Department and Lou’s LaGrotto. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please contact Nichols.

About Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the single largest year-round fundraising vehicle benefiting Special Olympics Illinois. The annual intrastate relay and its various fundraising projects have two goals: to raise money and to gain awareness for the athletes who participate in Special Olympics Illinois. The Law Enforcement Torch Run has raised nearly $52 million over 33 years while increasing awareness of Special Olympics Illinois athletes and their accomplishments.

About Special Olympics Illinois

Special Olympics Illinois is a not-for-profit organization offering year-round training and competition in 18 sports for more than 23,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities and over 17,000 young athletes ages 2-7 with and without intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics transforms the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, allowing them to realize their full potential in sports and in life. Special Olympics programs enhance physical fitness, motor skills, self-confidence, social skills and encourage family and community support. If you are interested in learning more about Special Olympics Illinois, volunteering or providing financial support to help make Special Olympics programs possible, contact your local Special Olympics agency, call 800-394-0562 or visit


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