Saturday, July 20, 2024
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Shiver in the River lands in a pool

by KRISTI NIEMEYER
Editor | February 22, 2024 12:00 AM

Thirty-five intrepid souls leaped off the dock at Riverside Park in Polson Saturday during Shiver in the River, the annual fundraiser for Special Olympics Montana. But this year, instead of plunging into the frigid Flathead River, they landed in an ice-infused swimming pool.

Organizers say the insurance company for SOMT insisted on the pool out of concern that someone might injure themselves clambering over ice, snow and slick rocks on their way to the river’s edge. But the change didn’t deter several police officers from jumping in the pool and then cooling off even further in the river.

“Oh yeah. I feel alive now,” exclaimed one of the double dippers.

In order to better emulate river temperatures on the sunny 25-degree afternoon, Gloria and Chris Richards sold bags of ice for $5 each. Gloria held a sign reading “Freezin’ for a Reason,” and collected donations while Chris broke open the bags, donated by Missoula’s VW Ice, and tossed them in the pool.

At one point he even offered to match any purchase. “Buy one, you get two,” he said.

Judging by the nervousness with which plungers approached the edge of the dock, and the near panic with which many exited the pool, the water was plenty refreshing. A heated tent awaited plungers on the boat ramp.

As usual, members of Lake County Search and Rescue were on hand, in case anything went awry.

Lindsey Campbell, who helped coordinate this year’s event for the Five Valley region, said the 35 participants doubles last year’s number and raised more than $6,000. The money, she says, stays in Montana and helps fund athlete events and education.

The plunge was one of 15 held statewide and is a signature event of the Law Enforcement Torch Run – a partnership between law enforcement and SOMT that aims to raise money and awareness for people with disabilities. 

Polson Police Department spearheads the local event, and officers from Ronan and St. Ignatius also dove in. Plungers of all ages and attired in everything from costumes to swimming suits raised pledges and took the challenge, including groups called the Flathead Lake Buccaneers and Polson High’s Frozen Popsicles.

“We couldn’t have done it without Search and Rescue – they are key a safety requirement,” said Campbell. “And, of course, the Polson Rural Fire Department, which helped fill the pool.”

Sorry you missed out? The final plunge of the season is the Griz Dip, 11 a.m. this Saturday at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. Learn more at www.somt.org/events/griz-dip-missoula.

    Holding hands apparently helps when it comes to plunging into cold water on a 25-degree afternoon during Saturday's Shiver in the River. The annual event (held in a pool instead of the river this year) attracted 35 plungers and a slew of bystanders to Riverside Park in Polson. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)
 
 
    Crew of costumed plungers bravely leaped into frigid water at Riverside Park in Polson this year during a benefit for Special Olympics Montana. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)
 
 
Around a dozen members of law enforcement from Polson, Ronan and St. Ignatius participated in Saturday's Shiver in the River, which was held in a pool this year due to insurance requirements. But a few hardy officers, including Ronan deputy Johnathan Gillian and Police Chief Robert Jacobson, took a dunk in the river as well. (Kristi Niemeyer/Leader)
    Freezin' for a Reason: Gloria and Chris Richards sold ice, donated by VW Ice of Missoula, for $5 a bag to help chill the already chilly water during Saturday's Shiver in the River, a benefit for Special Olympics.