Community Jumps In For 15th Annual BRRRmidji Plunge
Call it brave, daring or just plain crazy to jump into a frozen lake, but whatever you call it, the BRRmidji Plunge has proven to be a great fundraiser for some local causes.
“People are doing costumes! People are doing dances! I mean, anything to keep our spirits up in this weather!” says Larissa Donovan, who was the chair of this year’s event for the Bemidji Jaycees.
“I think it’s great for the community. Anytime the community can get together and have events like this, I think it helps build a stronger community,” says Dan Haugan, whose restaurant “The Bunkhouse” sponsored this year’s event.
Over the past 15 years, the plunge has seen jumpers from as far as China and Africa, not to mention all over the US. Since there was no Winterfest this year, Bemidji Jaycees took over the planning. This year, 64 people total took the freezing jump of a lifetime.
Proceeds from the plunge went on to benefit the Northwoods Battered Women’s Shelter, Support Within Reach Sexual Violence Support Center and the American Indian Resource Center at BSU.
“The Jaycees, we select some non-profits to give the net proceeds to, and it’s just part of how the Jaycees give back to our community. Our communities give so much to us, so it’s the least we can do get a bunch of people to jump into a hole,” says Donovan.
Haugan adds, “We like to be involved with the Jaycees and be a part of the community and help give back. The Jaycees have helped us here quite a bit.”
Stepping up on the platform and getting into the water takes guts, especially when you’re staring at water that’s 29 degrees.
“It really takes your breath away when you jump in, so even getting on the ladder to get out, your muscles just don’t do what they’re supposed to do,” says Bill Blackwell, Jr., the executive director of The American Indian Resource Center, who took the plunge for the first time this year.
Most came out of the freezing water and went straight into the hot tub that was nearby. Overall, this year’s event was a success and community members are already looking forward to the 2019 plunge.
“I feel like next year’s plunge is going to be great once we tie it in with Hockey Day Minnesota here in town, and then hopefully we’ll have the Winterfest back,” says Haugan.
“We just had a lot of fun with it. One of the the big things that I wanna say too is we’re just really thankful to be chosen as a beneficiary. It was great to get our name out there a little bit,” says Blackwell.
The Bunkhouse in Bemidji is still fundraising for BRRRmidji Plunge’s causes. You can drop off a plunge bracelet in exchange for a $1 donation until noon Tuesday.