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14th annual Polar Plunge event draws divers and donations for the North Dakota Special Olympics

93 people pledged at least $75 to take a plunge into a tank of frigid water, with some having raised much more. The number of participants increased from last year, when nearly 80 people took the plunge.

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Nathan Landaw jumps into a tank of 40 degree water, while a deputy from the Grand Forks Sheriff's Office's Water Rescue Team waits to assist him, at the 14th annual Polar Plunge event in Grand Forks. (Adam Kurtz/Grand Forks Herald)

About two dozen Grand Forks residents gathered at Choice Health and Fitness on Saturday, Feb. 27, to support people participating in the 14th annual Polar Plunge, an event that benefits the Special Olympics of North Dakota.

Dubbed “Freezin’ for a Reason,” the event is organized by local law enforcement as part of the year-round Law Enforcement Torch Run, which raises funds and awareness for the Special Olympics. This year, 93 people pledged at least $75 to take a plunge into a tank of frigid water, with some having raised much more. The number of participants increased from last year, when nearly 80 people took the plunge.

“We're above from last year, so we're pretty excited about that,” said Victor Meza III, of Special Olympics of North Dakota. “In the COVID year, we're coming out on top.”

The temperature stood at 7 degrees, and the sun struggled to peek through the clouds on Saturday, but the chilly weather didn’t stop participants from lining up to jump into a large tank of 40 degree water, which had chunks of ice floating about.

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“It isn’t so bad,” said Lee Mewes, the first person to take the plunge, to another participant, after exiting the tank. Mewes, a deputy with the Grand Forks Sheriff's Office, has taken part in the event in previous years.

In addition to the spectators, the event was attended by representatives of Grand Forks’ Police Department, Sheriff's Office and Water Rescue Team, North Dakota State Patrol and Northwest Regional UAS Team.

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