By Paul Pelech | Staff Writer

Lambert Fieldhouse slowly heated up as a crowd of over 350 people flooded in for the annual Polar Plunge. Raising money for Special Olympics, individuals and teams alike participated for the privilege to jump into a pool of freezing water. Despite this year’s plunge occurring on a record warm day (over 50 degrees before 10:00 AM), the water was still frigid and the energy still electric.

“There’s nothing more fun that coming here with some of the guys and jumping in freezing cold water,” Phil Spagnolo said. Spagnolo and his rugby teammates have raised money for the Plunge every year since 2013. “There are guys on the team who have family members who have partaken in Special Olympics and that’s how we first started getting into [the Plunge].”

The Purdue Rugby team raised over $700 and was just one of 45 teams. A total of 365 supporters donated to Special Olympics for Saturday’s event, each one of them taking the plunge into chilly water. As a participant, I myself stood on the wooden platform over the above-ground pool and felt the heat rush out of my body as I jumped in. Gasping as I surfaced, partly from the need to breathe and partly from the reflex the body has when submerged in icy water, I couldn’t fight the irresistible urge to grin. Neither could anyone else.

After all of the supporters had taken their dives, the event ended with Purdue Pete jumping into the water himself. Although this year’s weather wasn’t exactly polar, the Plunge raised over $74,000 for Special Olympics, which is still rather cool.