ST. GERMAIN - It's a time honored Wisconsin winter traditio, and it requires a lot a nerve and very little clothing.|
Newswatch 12 takes you to St. Germain for the 12th annual Polar Bear Plunge.
"I don't know anyone who hasn't have cancer touch their life in some way, shape or form," says Amy Linnett, Co-Emcee of the Polar Bear Plunge.
It may be an unconventional way to raise money for people touched by cancer, but it works. This year's Polar Bear Plunge raised more than $33,000 for Angel on My Shoulder.
"Angel on My Shoulder helps families dealing with cancer. Not necessarily just the people that have cancer, but they have programs for the caretakers, for survivors and the children," says Linnett.
"These children have been touched by cancer either through a sibling, a parent, or a grandparent. It gives them the opportunity to step back; meet other kids that are in the same situation as they are," says Dick Lemke, Board Member for the Polar Bear Plunge.
The Plunge began 12 years ago and has become a Northwoods tradition. So what is it about jumping into a freezing lake that brings hundreds of jumpers out every year?
"Raising money for a really good cause, and a bunch of good friends and colleagues; if they're going to jump, I feel obligated to jump too," says Todd Haahs, from Discover Wisconsin.
"Girls Weekend! We found out this was going on, and cancer is close to my heart. My dad died of cancer," says DeeDee VanBeek, from Mukwonago, WI.
Linnett says people love this fundraiser because it's for everybody. You don't need to have a ton of money to donate.
"If you can put on a pair of shorts and a pair of water shoes and jump in the water... ten seconds of freezing cold and you've done something really great. And everybody just has a great time," says Linnett.
So for a first timer, let's hear some advice...
"Wear less clothes so you can get them off," says Ashly Kerecman, from Lakeland Union High School.
"Jump as far away to the edge as you can, so you're in the water for the least amount of time that you can," says Haahs.
"I feel really good right now. It's been great," says Lara Joanis, from Wausau, WI.
"It's freezing!" say Ashly Kerecman and Cierra Behn, from Lakeland Union High School.
Freezing is an understatement... but it's easy to remember what you're freezing for.
"A little bit of pain helps a lot of people, so go for it," says VanBeek.
"Charity is a good thing, no matter how much it is," says Tommy Etier, from Rockford, IL.
"It's not about you, it's about everybody else," says VanBeek.
After this event, the Polar Bear Plunge and WRJO's 30 hour broadcast fundraisers have raised a total of almost $280,000 for Angel on My Shoulder, over the past 12 years.