FOREST LAKE — Dozens of Minnesota lake-goers braved the chilling wind and freezing waters Feb.16 to “get cold for a cause” The annual Winter Plunge, sponsored by the Forest Lake Rotary Club, offered participants the chance to organize a team of jumpers and raise money for their favorite charitable cause. In exchange for their pledge money, family and friends crowded around the square hole in the ice and watched with gleeful faces as the plungers marched towards their icy fates, each splash being met with cheers from the adoring crowd.

The 2019 Winter Plunge raised a whopping $56,802, dwarfing last year’s pledge figure by approximately $10,000. With 20 teams in total, the charities and charitable causes who the teams were jumping for included Food for His Children, which “works to end extreme poverty in rural Tanzania;” the Upper Midwest Great Dane Rescue whose mission is to facilitate foster homes and veterinary services to Great Danes in need, the Tried and True Small Engines social enterprise program who offer youths the chance “look at what it takes to run a small business,” and many more.

70 percent of the money raised by each team went directly to their respective charitable causes, while the remaining 30 percent of the money went to the Forest Lake Rotary to further their larger goal of “humanitarian service and to advance goodwill and peace around the world.”

“I love seeing all the energy,” said Linda Nanko-Yeager, President of the Forest Lake Rotary Club, “I love seeing all the people come out for a good cause.”

That was certainly the overarching theme of the day, embracing the pain for a good cause. Amy Greenfield, who has plunged annually for the past five years, remarked “It’s always cold, but it’s always a good time—and it’s for a great cause.”

Greenfield belonged to the team Plungers for a Playground, which raised $6,800 to “create a better space of play for our kids, community, and school.”

Whether one was there as an organizer, a watcher, or a plunger, everyone had one thing in common: they were there to do what Minnesotans do best, to get cold and to spread a sense of “Minnesota nice.”

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