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Halls to host polar bear plunge

Sam Stryker | Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Saturday at 2 p.m., Notre Dame students will be braving the ice-cold waters of St. Joseph Lake in the first annual Polar Bear Plunge, organized by Badin and Dillon Hall.

Despite the frigid temperatures, Badin Hall president Taylor Osicek is anticipating a strong turnout from the student body.

“We are hoping for an attendance of at least 250 for our first year. We are hoping that by using two dorms to sponsor the event, we can really generate some enthusiasm for the event,” she said.

“We understand that some people are not familiar with the idea, so we hope to introduce them to the premise this year, and get them to participate next year,” Osicek said.

Participation in the event is relatively straightforward and should be popular with Notre Dame students, Osicek said.

“Basically, it’s just running into a body of water in the middle of the winter and running out. It has kind of a cult-like following and mob mentality behind it that we hope will translate to Notre Dame well,” she said.

Osicek said Badin and Dillon drew inspiration for the event from similar fundraisers that occur across major United States cities. She cited Chicago as an example, noting that on New Years’ Day participants run into Lake Michigan. Part of the appeal of the event is that it occurs in the winter.

“Kevin Doyle, the Dillon president, Kaitie McCabe, Badin’s vice president and I realized there are so much fundraising runs in the fall and spring, but thanks to the lovely South Bend weather, there is a total lag in the winter,” Osicek said. “We thought this would be a creative way to fill the void.”

Osicek said originally the Polar Bear Plunge was meant to raise funds for a local charity, but with recent events that have transpired in Haiti, organizers of the event have changed the focus of the event.

“Initially we were going to raise the money for the Center for the Homeless, but after the disaster in Haiti, we decided to give all the $5 donations from the participants to the fund that student government has started,” she said.

Students can to pre-register in both dining halls Wednesday and Thursday, or register Saturday before the 2 p.m. start time at St. Joseph Beach.

Osicek said the event will entail more than just a swim in the lake.

“By participating, you are automatically entered in a raffle for Notre Dame Snuggies, and gift cards for restaurants at Eddy Street Commons. We will have free hot chocolate, brownies and cookies provided along with some music playing,” she said.