Hundreds fundraise, take Polar Plunge for Special Olympics

By Christine Scalora, NewsNetNebraska

About 220 people marched into Holmes Lake in Lincoln last Saturday as part of the fundraiser for Special Olympics Nebraska.

They went in wearing tutus, Speedos and cowboy hats. One group went in as lifeguards, another as Scooby Doo and the gang. The first, and oldest, participant of the day was 92. They represented fraternities, high schools and businesses.

And collectively they raised just under $40,000, said Katie Ryan, director of development for Special Olympics Nebraska.

Polar Plunges have already been held in Omaha and Scottsbluff, and others will be held in Kearney and Auburn in March.

The goal is to raise about $200,000, Ryan said. The group is on track to meet that goal, she said.

Lincoln Fire and Rescue personnel were on standby – both on the shore and in the water. A hole had to be cut out of iced-over Holmes Lake. This was the ninth year the event was held.

Jessica Gieseke and her group “Shiver Me Timbers” raised about $2,000. Gieseke spent about seven hours the Friday before the event making the tree that went into the water this year.

“I need to go out and buy a new broom because my broom is inside the tree holding it up,” she said.

Alex Svehla, a student at Nebraska Wesleyan University, was there with eight of his fraternity brothers. The Zeta Psi fraternity member said the organization has participated in the event every year.

Svehla and Gieseke share why they participate in the Polar Plunge.

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