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Plunge raises big bucks

The 10th anniversary of the Polar Plunge proved to be the most successful ever.

"We were over double what our normal year is," said Steve Lund, Boys & Girls Club board of directors president.

In an average year, the Polar Plunge raises $14,000 to $15,000 for the club. This year, Lund said Tuesday morning as he was still adding up donations, there is well over $30,000.

"It was a great event, great turnout."

There were nearly 80 jumpers total, and several brought at least $1,000 in pledges with them. Lund credited Jeff Offutt, Ken Foltz, Dawn Olson and Dave Hochhalter with bringing in at least $1,000, but the top contender for donations was Ron Wicker. He raised $8,300, which was matched by his employer, BTD Manufacturing.

Another BTD employee raising money for the club was James Voigt.

Hochhalter and Gary Nansen were two 10-year alumni. They jumped in 1996, the first year of the plunge, and again this year.

As for the prizes after the jump, the $1,000 drawing went to Wicker, who benefited from the law of averages.

Each person who raised over $250 had a chance to put his or her name in the drawing. Wicker had roughly 32 chances. He split his winnings between $500 to his daughter, Donna, who also jumped, and $500 for a drawing for BTD employees.

Those BTD employees that donated to the plunge got their name in the hat to win the $500, WE Fest tickets and Lakeside gift certificates.

First place honors in the individual costume contest went to Hochhalter, dressed as a fisherman. Second went to Wicker, dressed as a trapper. When he jumped in, he had a walleye he was going to bring out of the water in his mouth. Lund said Wicker told him later the fish was fighting so hard, Wicker just threw it out of the water when he came up.

In the group costume contest, the Erickson family took first place honors, and the Bergen kids took second.

"It turned out far, far more than we imagined for a 10-year anniversary," Lund said.

The next step, Lund said, is for the club to find a way to "keep up the momentum" from year to year on donations raised from the Polar Plunge.