The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Sixth annual Polar Bear Plunge to benefit Hope Initiative

| Friday, February 6, 2015

Students plunge into the icy cold water of Saint Joseph’s Lake at last year’s Polar Bear Plunge.Emily McConville | The Observer
Students plunge into the icy cold water of Saint Joseph’s Lake at last year’s Polar Bear Plunge.

Hundreds of willing participants will pay $5 to submerge themselves in icy water for charity during the sixth annual Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday. The event, co-sponsored by Badin and Dillon Halls, will take place in St. Joseph’s Lake from 2-4 p.m.

“We are hoping for record participation this year and would love to see over 500 plungers,” Corinne Sullivan, sophomore and president of Badin Hall, said. “The weather looks warm for Saturday, so that should help.”

Every year, proceeds from the plunge go to the Hope Initiative, an organization founded by assistant professor of industrial design and Badin’s Hall Fellow, Ann-Marie Conrado. According to Sullivan, all of Badin’s signature events sponsor the HOPE Initiative.

“HOPE Initiative works to build schools in Nepal and provides them with an innovative education that focuses on entrepreneurial thinking [and] creativity and helps lift children out of poverty by providing them [with] the skills they need to work,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the HOPE Initiative’s commissioners have been instrumental in planning the Polar Bear Plunge.

Mary Howard, sophomore and vice president of Badin, said she participated in the event last year.

“The anticipation of standing in the snow is the worst part,” Howard said. “I am definitely doing it again this year. . . . The question is really just what outfit I will plunge in.”

Junior Lindsay Dougherty said she has been doing polar bear plunges since she was 13 years old. She said the Plunge on campus is one of her favorite events.

“Making yourself run into the water is the hardest part because the countdown feels so long, and you think you’re going to lose your nerve,” Dougherty said.

Sullivan said every year, waves of people run screaming and laughing into the lake while wearing some kind of costume.

“Last year, my friend Meg and I went in on tutus and tights and tank tops [with] bathing suits underneath,” Dougherty said. “On the walk home, the tutus froze and became rock hard.”

Sister Denise Lyon, rector of Badin, said planning the event takes six weeks and involves everyone in both co-sponsoring dorms.

“It takes a village, all of Badin and Dillon as our co-sponsor, to prepare all the details and make the event successful,” Lyon said. “We begin as soon as we return after winter break and start planning.”

Sullivan said the event’s advertising included a Polar Bear Plunge shirt, a “backpack advertising” campaign, and a remake of freshman Henry Long’s “Chandelier” dance for a Polar Bear Plunge promo video.

“It is a lot of work to pull off an event this size and temperature,” Sullivan said. “However, it is definitely worth it to hear everyone screaming in the water.”



About Selena Ponio

Selena Ponio is from Dallas, Texas and is currently a senior at the University of Notre Dame. She is the Associate News Editor for The Observer. Selena lives in Breen-Phillips hall and is majoring in International Economics with a concentration in Spanish and is minoring in Journalism, Ethics & Democracy.

Contact Selena