Sartell man takes the plunge

by Dennis Dalman –

For taking an ice-cold plunge, a Sartell man helped his team raise almost $1,700 for the Minnesota Special Olympics.

It was one of the top two amounts raised that day.

Rick Welch was one of almost 1,000 “plungers” who took a dip through a hole in the ice Feb. 2 on a lake in Maple Grove. It was the third of 16 “Polar Bear Plunge” events scheduled for this winter throughout Minnesota. Sponsored by law-enforcement agenies, the plunge events raise funds, through pledges, for Special Olympics Minnesota.

Originally from Chicago, Welch now lives in Sartell and is employed by Target in St. Cloud. He’s studying to be an accountant. This was Welch’s first polar plunge. He decided to do it this year because his girlfriend, MaryBeth Munden of St. Joseph, convinced him it’s not only fun but for a good cause. This was Munden’s fourth plunge. Munden’s and Welch’s third team member was Jill Vonfeldt, a long-time friend of Munden’s who flew to Minnesota from Colorado for the event. Munden, who grew up in Colorado, is the police dispatcher for the St. Joseph Police Department. Munden raised the lion’s share of the money for her team.

“It was a good time with that big crowd of people,” Welch said of the Maple Grove event. “It was fun seeing all the goofy outfits the plungers wore.”

The three team members agreed that taking the plunge “was cold but fun.”

In Maple Grove, the temperature that day was about 15 degrees. They didn’t stay cold for long, though. Right after the plunge, they “plunged” into a hot tub for awhile before putting back on some winter-weather clothing.

Welch said he will definitely participate in the polar plunge next year. His mother and stepfather, who live in Maple Grove, also plan to “plunge” next winter.

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.

The three team members said they 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 and to register, visit the polar plunge website at

[/media-credit] Holding hands and gritting their teeth, Rick Welch of Sartell and MaryBeth Munden of St. Joseph 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.”




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