by Dennis Dalman
MaryBeth Munden admits she’s crazy.
Every winter she willingly plunges into ice-cold water.
“Yes, I’m crazy,” she said, laughing. “But I’m getting smarter. This year I won’t be taking the plunge until March.”
On March 8, Munden will take a deep breath and then jump into a lake at Eden Prairie, along with other people. It’s all part of the annual “Polar Bear Plunge,” a statewide fundraiser for Law Enforcement for Special Olympics Minnesota. The Eden Prairie event is one of 16 Polar Plunge gatherings throughout the state.
Many local people know Munden as the dispatcher for the St. Joseph Police Department. Others are familiar with her through her work at El Paso Bar and Grill and Kay’s Kitchen, both in St. Joseph. Still others have gotten to know Munden as their “Avon Lady,” as she sells Avon products on top of her other jobs.
“I work a lot of jobs because I love to travel,” Munden said. “I was just in Jamaica. Soon I’m taking my boyfriend, Rick Welch, to Mexico for his birthday. I’m planning a trip to Italy in September, and next Christmas I’m going to Japan.”
Welch, Munden’s boyfriend, is a member of her Polar Plunge team.
Last year, at a Polar Plunge in Maple Grove, Munden and her team raised $1,700 for Special Olympics Minnesota. They hope to top that amount in March. This year, her team’s name is “Mary, Mark and the Rest of the Family.”
Munden has always been a bit of a daredevil. She said she likes adventures. Plunging into frigid water comes easily to Munden.
“Before plunging in I always talk to the guys on the edge of the ice to make sure they’ll save me if I don’t come back up,” Munden said, chuckling. “I’ve got to make sure they’re bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to save me. Then I just hang on to my sunglasses and jump in.”
It is a body shock, she admits, but fortunately there are dry towels and a heated tent to enter as icy water streams down her body.
Anyone who wants to donate money to Special Olympics Minnesota can send a check made out to “Special Olympics Minnesota” to MaryBeth Munden, P.O. Box 546, St. Joseph, MN 56374. They can also stop at the St. Joseph Police Department and drop off a check there. Department hours are 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.
To donate online, go to www.plungemn.org/plunger/marybethmunden.
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.