Swimmers plunge into icy Longview Lake waters for Special Olympics
Amanda Geno rose out of bed about 6 a.m. Friday and gauged the outside temperature — a frigid 26 degrees.
Geno, a police officer in Lee’s Summit, helped organize the 10th annual Super Plunge at Longview Lake. It’s hosted by police departments in Belton, Kansas City and Lee’s Summit.
Beginning at noon Friday, 14 swimmers leaped into the icy water once an hour for 24 hours, culminating in Saturday’s formal Polar Plunge. Both events raise money for Special Olympics Missouri.
As part of her commitment, Geno has to plunge at least once this weekend. She has plunged about 10 times over the last few years. Still, with temperatures hovering below the 40-degree mark Friday, Geno reminded herself the plunge was for a good cause.
“I just kind of look the other way with the temperature,” she said.
Longtime participant Amy Wurst said the plunge is not for the faint of heart. Most participants stay on-site overnight, huddled in a warming tent. Having to plunge 24 times in 24 hours is difficult, Wurst said, but a worthwhile endeavor.
Super Plungers raise more than $2,500 to participate.
“We raise a tremendous amount of money for the right to jump into the water,” Wurst said shortly after her fifth plunge. “That’s what we do, and we’ve been doing it for 10 years.”
Wurst, a 10-time Super Plunger from Kansas City, introduced a nephew, Andrew, to the event this year. An 11-year-old niece also participated.
Andrew, a 14-year-old freshman at Shawnee Mission East High School, said his initial jump was met with a chill. The water temperature was about 34 degrees at noon.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Andrew said after multiple dips. “But it’s getting colder as the day goes by. The night plunges are going to be the worst.”
Wurst said this is her last year running into the lake, but she will continue to volunteer for the event. She is hopeful for Andrew’s return.
“I’m passing the torch to him,” Wurst said.
Chad Meyer of Lee’s Summit is a seven-time participant in the Super Plunge. On Friday, he made it a family affair. Meyer’s 10-year-old son, Andrew, plunged. His wife, Lori, did not. She joined only for moral support.
The couple’s youngest son, 5-year-old Brooks, took a semi-dip in the lake with Meyer. The middle son, 8-year-old Jack, was hesitant to participate.
“I’m still working on him,” Meyer said with a smile. “He’s holding out on me.”
Andrew Meyer, a fifth-grader at Our Lady of the Presentation Catholic School in Lee’s Summit, described the plunge as both fun and trying.
“It was cool,” he said. “And cold.”
Geno, chairwoman of the Polar Plunge committee, said this year’s Super Plunge should exceed last year’s total of $150,000 raised. In 2016, both plunges raised $269,000 overall. This year’s goal is $285,000, and organizers hope to break the million-dollar mark across the state with 13 events, Geno said.
“We’re hoping to go above and beyond that,” she said.
More than 800 brave men and women from around the area will don costumes and swimwear Saturday and take polar dips into Longview Lake.
What: The event is one of the many projects hosted by local law enforcement to benefit their charity of choice, Special Olympics Missouri.
When: Registration for the Polar Plunge begins at 9:00 a.m. Saturday. The traditional Parade of Costumes will proceed at noon, with the plunge immediately following.
Where: Longview Lake, 11101 Raytown Road. Parking is available on site.
Why: All proceeds from the event benefit more than 1,800 Special Olympics Missouri athletes in the metro area.