Indiana State University Newsroom

Brave the cold, take the Plunge Feb. 14

January 14, 2015

With a cold and icy winter season upon us, many from Indiana State and the Terre Haute community plan to raise awareness in an exhilarating way.

Jumping into a pool of water in sub-zero temperatures may be intimidating to some, but for those participating in Indiana State’s seventh annual Polar Plunge, freezing is all a part of the fun.

“It is really cold, but it’s really worth it,” Kayla Lindsay, a sophomore and communication major, said.

As a participant of the Polar Plunge, individuals are required to raise $75 in donations, $50 for students with a student I.D. The proceeds benefit the sports training and athletic competition for athletes in the Special Olympics Indiana, an organization funded entirely through donations.

“I was extremely nervous [before plunging last year],” Lindsay said. “I was like ‘this is crazy,’ but then my parents showed up, [and] my grandparents showed up showing their support for me. They helped me raise money [and] they were excited to see this money go to such a great cause and help these athletes.”

Being a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority, Lindsay has experience helping out with the Special Olympics, which is a part of her sorority’s philanthropy, and says seeing the appreciation from the athletes is an eye opening experience.

 “I got involved [with the Polar Plunge] initially because this is one of our biggest philanthropy [events] with Alpha Sigma Alpha, but if I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it all out.”

Many others agree. The Polar Plunge is a nationwide event that occurs every winter season and is popularly known for its campus challenge. State will compete against other universities such as Purdue, Ball State and Butler. Though Special Olympics Indiana may run closer to home for Indiana State, where the organization originated. Founded by two Indiana State faculty members, Judy Campbell and Tom Songster, in 1969, Special Olympics Indiana’s summer games have been hosted nearly every June at the university since.

Those participating in the campus challenge are recognized for the most money raised, the largest number of plungers and the group with the best costume, which seems to be where participants have the most fun.

Plungers with Alpha Sigma Alpha are usually garbed in their traditional ladybug T-shirts, but this year may break that routine.

“Maybe people can be looking for a really cool costume from the ASA’s this year,” Lindsay hints.

Participants in the Polar Plunge are not limited to having an affiliation with the university, however. Many other community groups have participated in the past, including Terre Haute North Vigo High School, the Mix FM crew and Miss Crossroads of America. Last year, Michael Furnish, president and CEO of Special Olympics Indiana, plunged with Indiana State’s group along with other individuals.

Among well-known Indiana State participants, Dean John Murray, College of Arts and Sciences, is noted for taking a dip or two.  

“This is a pretty big profile event. It can really make a difference in sending kids to a camp, in sponsoring activities for kids who have developmental disabilities, and if somebody who’s high profile does it, maybe that brings one or two other people to donate some money,” Murray said. “The money I raised was money they wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t done it.”

Murray is the only campus dean to participate in the Polar Plunge, and says that stepping away from his usual role can help bring more awareness from others.

“I’m humbling myself [by] dunk[ing] myself in freezing cold water … so it’s not so much about me as it is for the cause,” he said.

With anticipation to bring a larger crowd, the Polar Plunge will be undergoing several changes this year. It will be held at the Student Recreation Center at Spruce and Sixth streets, instead of Hulman Center. The event will also begin at a later time at 10 a.m., instead of 8 a.m., in hopes that more students will make it out to come and support.  

Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity is also contributing to the event’s changes.

“Traditionally Pike has helped with the set up and tear down of the pool, but this year we are excited to be able to provide a new pool for the event and we will again be helping with the set up and tear down of the pool,” fraternity member and second-year plunger Brandon Nettrouer said.

“Polar Plunge is the [most fun] philanthropy event that I have ever been a part of during my time at State,” Nettrouer said. “The anticipation of plunging into cold water on an icy day is incredible. It is warming, however, seeing the strong support given by the Terre Haute community and other State organizations for the Special Olympics of Indiana.”

Kimberly Monte, the Indiana State committee chair for the Polar Plunge, hopes this year’s event will exceed previous years’ outcomes.

“We set a goal every year and we continue to reach our goal, and so we obviously raise that every year to challenge ourselves,” she said. “Last year we set a couple of records. We had the most money raised that we ever had, which was over $32,000, and we had 159 plungers, but we also had the coldest temp on record. It was -4 degrees when we did our plunge … we’re kind of proud of that, [it was a] true polar plunge.”

There will be many fundraising opportunities for those who would like to donate to the cause. Indiana State’s Dining Services will promote the “Donate a Dollar” program Feb. 9-12 in which donations will be collected at the following locations on campus: Sub Connections, Soup or Salad, Eddy’s, the Campus Cupboard, Einstein’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and the coffee place at the library.

Texas Roadhouse will donate 10 percent of each check total to Special Olympics Indiana on Jan. 27. Customers can present a flyer to their server.


At the Polar Plunge, crowd members can also donate to the polar bear mascot who will walk around collecting money at the event. More information, including a registration form, can be found at


Photo: -- First year plunger and sophomore communication major, Kayla Lindsay, supported Special Olympics Indiana along with other members of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority members. (Rachel Keyes/Indiana State University Photography Services)

Photo: -- John Murray, dean of College of Arts and Sciences, took the plunge February 2014 during the 6th annual Polar Plunge hosted by Indiana State University. (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services)

Photo: -- Pi Kappa Alpha's fraternity president and second-year plunger, Brandon Nettrouer braves -4 degree tempatures last February. (Tony Campbell/Indiana State University Photography Services)

Contact: Kimberly Monte, Indiana State University Polar Plunge chair, or 812-237-4099

Writer: Sadie All, media relations student assistant, Office of Communications and Marketing, or 812-237-3773