by Dennis Dalman – email@example.com
Some of MaryBeth Munden’s acquaintances are beginning to wonder if she’s part polar bear.
Why else would she enjoy plunging into arctic-icy waters every winter?
Well, as she likes to remind folks, she takes the “plunge” not because she’s part polar bear but because she likes to do it, gladly, for a good cause – to raise money for the Special Olympics.
Munden is the dispatcher for the St. Joseph Police Department.
Contributions can be made online at:
Or a check can be made out to “Special Olympics Minnesota” and sent to:
P.O. Box 546
St. Joseph, MN 56374
Checks can also be dropped off at the St. Joseph Police Department.
This year, Munden will take her plunge Feb. 2 in Maple Grove’s Fish Lake Park. She will be one of 297 plungers and one of 3,840 plungers in 16 “Polar Plunge” events throughout Minnesota this winter.
The Maple Grove event will be Munden’s fourth plunge in as many years.
“It’s very cold,” she said in an obvious understatement. “It’s just a sudden shock. The cold doesn’t even register at first because it’s such a shock.”
During a couple of her plunges, it was a matter of jumping into the icy water and jumping right back out. But in some plunges, the plungers have to swim to the other side of a wide expanse of water to get back out. Two years ago, at Lake Darling in Alexandria, there were so many plungers there was not enough room for them in the makeshift tents set up along the shore. After taking her icy plunge, a water-drenched Munden realized there would be no room for her in the crowded tents. Shivering to her bones, she had to walk all the way to Radisson Arrowwood Resort at least 50 yards from shore. She felt as if she was about to morph into a human icicle when, all of a sudden, a woman ran up to her and threw a towel over her.
The Polar Plunge is a program of Minnesota law-enforcement agencies to raise funds for the Special Olympics, along with the annual Law Enforcement Torch Run. The “Plunge” began on Lake Como one shivering-frigid day in 1998 with just a handful of plunging teammates. In 2005, there were 100 “plungers” who raised $275,000 in five locations. Last year, at 13 locations, the 7,000 plungers raised a cool $1.4 million.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.