Annual Polar Plunge brings hundreds to Half Moon Lake in Eau Cla - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Annual Polar Plunge brings hundreds to Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire

Eau Claire (WQOW) -

Locals were warming up after plunging for a cause Sunday afternoon on Half Moon Lake in Eau Claire. More than 350 people jumped in honor of the Special Olympics Wisconsin.

"[The] event is our largest fundraiser of the year," said organizer Lisa Walter. "We raise money to benefit our Special Olympics athletes. It's a ton of fun. A lot of people do this. You know it's a bucket list item. So, we're hoping to raise over $100,000 for our Special Olympic athletes in the region."

Dozens of teams came together, jumping into the icy waters as a result of raising hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for the cause. And first-time plungers were not expecting the shockingly low temperatures.

"I knew it was going to be cold, and then my feet hit the water and those expectations were shattered in an incredible way," said plunger Dan Smith. "It was an interesting and eye-opening experience."

Others agreed that it was quite the shock, but not just the water.

"The worst part about it was the wait," said plunger Sam Dearbin. "Psyching myself out, that was the worst part."

Plungers from all over joined in the celebration. Some, from a little farther away. UW-Eau Claire international students decided to experience Wisconsin winters to the fullest before leaving for home.

"At first we thought we were going to regret this. We were never going to come out alive," said plunger Dhiyanni Dearbin. "But when we walked here we were like we are going to regret this, but honestly it was a good experience, the weather is amazing and if we were here longer, we would definitely do it again."

"I would do it again because A it's kind of fun, even though it's ridiculously cold, it's kind of fun," said Dearbin. "And also, I mean, it's for a good cause, you know?"

With plungers eager for their next polar dip, organizers are already looking to next year's event.

"Everybody's looking for something to do this time of the year. This is the place to be today. Watch your calendars for next year, because we will be back again for sure," said Walters.

Organizers said that the amount raised for Sunday's Polar Plunge totals more than $95,000.

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