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Natalie Bonar-Leis reacts to the cold as she jumps into a tank of water Saturday morning at the Special Olympics North Dakota Polar Plunge in Grand Forks. Herald photo by John Stennes.

A plunge for the Polar Bear

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local Grand Forks,North Dakota 58203 http://www.grandforksherald.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/12/0115/306polarplunge.jpg?itok=ZH0OGhnt
Grand Forks Herald
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A plunge for the Polar Bear
Grand Forks North Dakota 375 2nd Ave. N. 58203

Thirteen people took the Polar Plunge in honor of the Polar Bear at the Special Olympics' popular fundraiser Saturday.

Thirteen of the 60 jumpers into the ice-cold water did so to honor Andrew Bakke, a Special Olympics athlete from Larimore, N.D., who died Jan. 30.

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"The only true Polar Bear," said the orange T-shirts of the jumpers, who raised more than $1,700. Bakke, 18, wore the Polar Bear mascot outfit for Larimore High School athletic events.

"If you talked to Andrew, all he wanted to talk about was the Polar Bears," said Patrick Anderson, the organizer of Andrew's team. Most of the team members are Special Olympics volunteers or Anne Carlsen Center employees who worked with Andrew.

"Andrew was well-loved," Anderson said. "The school gym was full for his funeral."

Most jumpers took the leap in honor or a friend or relative. But others were there for the novelty/shock value of jumping into a pool of water that was 42 degrees and climbing out into an air temperature of 15 degrees.

Some participants wore costumes while others wore swimsuits. Most notable were three men who wore wigs, bikinis and considerable body hair as Charlie's Angels' impersonators.

The third-annual event raised a record of more than $15,000, with more pledges expected to be submitted. The leading money-raiser was Kelly Grey with $2,200.

Reach Bakken at (701) 780-1125; (800) 477-6572, ext. 125; or send e-mail to rbakken@gfherald.com.

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