Munden a top fundraiser in polar plunge

by Dennis Dalman –

For taking an ice-cold plunge, MaryBeth Munden of St. Joseph raised almost $1,700 for the Minnesota Special Olympics.

She was one of the two top fundraisers among the 1,000 “plungers” who took an icy dip into a lake at Maple Grove Feb. 2. It was the third of 16 “Polar Bear Plunge” events scheduled for this winter throughout Minnesota. Sponsored by law-enforcement agencies, the plunge events raise funds, through pledges, for Special Olympics Minnesota.

This was Munden’s fourth time in a Polar Bear Plunge, which is now in its 16th year.

“It was cold, but it was fun,” Munden said. “The temperature was about 15 degrees. But we all had a good time. And they had the event set up really well this year so we didn’t stay cold for long. Right after our plunge, we sat in hot tubs for awhile.”

The 1,000 plungers, divided into smaller teams, all took their frigid plunge within one hour.

Munden had two fellow team members – her boyfriend, Rick Welch of Sartell; and her long-time friend since childhood, Jill Vonfeldt, who flew to Minnesota from Colorado for the event. Munden, who is the dispatcher for the St. Joseph Police Department, grew up in Colorado.

So far, the Maple Grove Polar Plunge raised $126,231, but those are only online pledges, and more are still coming in. Statewide, the three plunges so far have raised more than $1 million in online pledges. Last year, about 12,000 participants raised $2.8 million, which is double the amount raised in 2010.

Munden said she would like to thank again all of those who pledged money for a good cause.

The next polar plunge will take place in St. Cloud Feb. 16. For more information or to register, visit the polar plunge website at

[/media-credit] Holding hands and gritting their teeth, MaryBeth Munden of St. Joseph and Rick Welch of Sartell prepare to take the plunge Feb. 2 at a lake in Maple Grove. The couple and their teammate, Jill Vonfeldt of Colorado, raised nearly $1,700 for the Minnesota Special Olympics for their brave participation in the “Polar Bear Plunge.” The Maple Grove plunge is one of 16 scheduled for this winter throughout the state. It’s sponsored by law-enforcement agenices throughout Minnesota.

[/media-credit] Cold-water shock hits like a hammer as teammates (from left to right) Jill Vonfeldt, Rick Welch and MaryBeth Munden take the plunge into a lake at Maple Grove.

[/media-credit] Drenched head-to-toe, the three shivering teammates emerge from the frigid water, eager to take another plunge – this time into a hot tub available for the “plungers.”

Dennis Dalman

Dennis Dalman

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.
Dennis Dalman
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