Many Take Icy Dip For Special Olympics

MEDICAL LAKE — Spring might be just around the corner but that thought did little to warm over 100 swimmers who braved the icy, cold waters at Medical Lake on Saturday.

The annual Polar Bear Plunge benefiting the Special Olympics took place on a hole in the ice on Medical Lake. With snow still on the ground and frigid water, many still braved the leap of faith for a good cause.

“This red suit, it’s a polar wetsuit that helps in the water,” said jumper Bill Bresko.

81-year-old Bresko made his second run at braving the cold on Saturday. He knows to load up on carbs before the big plunge.

“I’m eating my spaghetti, I’m getting my energy,” he said. “I have to have a lot of energy when I hit that 32 degree water.”

He joined more than 100 jumpers who spent part of the day preparing their minds and bodies for frigid cold water.

Every year, volunteers walk to the edge testing their courage, determination, and will power. One group after another, more and more brave souls walked to the edge of the ice and waded through 34 to 36 degree water.

Some were fully costumed, others stripped down to the bear essentials, taking a deep breath and leap of faith to benefit local Special Olympics’ athletes.

“What these guys do for us athletes, it’s just plain and simple a miracle,” said Special Olympics Athlete James Stinson. “They love us athletes, they think the world of us, it just brings warmth to my heart.”

Familiar faces, like Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich showed up to jump.

“It’s not that bad, I encourage everyone to try it,” said Sheriff Knezovich.

It was his first time facing freezing temperatures and blustery winds, but he was more than enthusiastic to help local athletes make their dreams a reality.

“Actually the water wasn’t as bad as getting out, once you got out the wind picked up and it got a little chilly,” he said.

Even KZZU radio hosts Ken Hopkins and Molly Allen took the icy dip.

“For Special Olympics, it’s a great cause, it’s wonderful but it’s cold,” exclaimed Hopkins.

As of Saturday afternoon, the unofficial amount of money raised was $17,000 for Special Olympics.