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Posted on Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 5:57 a.m.

University of Michigan hosts Polar Plunge to raise money for Special Olympics

By Kody Klein

A parade of costumed community members will march through Michigan Stadium's tunnel and jump into a cold pool set up on the field for the Polar Plunge on Saturday.


The Polar Plunge is part of the University of Michigan's partnership with the Special Olympics. file

Although there have been previous plunges, this year's plunge at the Big House is the first major fundraising event of University of Michigan's partnership with Special Olympics Michigan.

"It’s an amazing opportunity and partnership," said Kimberly Purdy, chief marketing and development officer for Special Olympics Michigan. reported the announcement made by the U-M athletic department that it would be partnering with the Special Olympics in November 2012. Following the announcement, U-M also confirmed that the Big House, Big Heart race would no longer end in Michigan Stadium. U-M officials said the decision was at least in part due to making the charitable relationship with Special Olympics a top priority.

Purdy said more than 400 people have registered for the plunge already.

The event will feature celebrity judges including former Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr, current coach Brady Hoke, Olympic swimmer Peter Vanderkaay, Miss Washtenaw County Marissa Cowan and WDIV sports director Bernie Smilovitz.

Although registration began months ago, Purdy said walk-up registration is welcomed starting at 10:30 a.m.

After registration is completed, Carr and Hoke will give a pre-plunge motivational speech and plungers will start jumping in at noon.

Once the last person takes the plunge, an award ceremony and lunch will take place.

Purdy said anyone who can't make it out to the plunge but is still interested in donating to Special Olympics Michigan, can do so for the first time in the voluntary contributions schedule of their taxes.

More information about the event, including the awards, can be found on the First Giving website.



Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 8:36 p.m.

I miss the Big Heart part of it. But now that I think about it, "polar" is a better descriptor of U of M's cold, stingy heart, I guess.

Dog Guy

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 3:08 p.m.

No ice? Tap water? Wetsuits? Ladder? Dunk tank? Enclosed location? No wonder that polar bears are endangered. And could you explain a bit slower and more simply why the Big House, Big Heart race will no longer end in Michigan Stadium?


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

1. You can run 95% of the BHBH 5k route whenever you want, you just can't end on the 50-yard line. 2. Champions for Charity is a for-profit company. 3. The University owns Michigan Stadium and can do whatever they want with it. They can also partner with whomever they want. If they only want to partner with non-profit companies, then so be it. 4. Odds are there will be another race down the road that ends in the stadium. 5. There are lots of other charitable races out there. BHBH didn't start out very big either. Let's see how this all evolves.

Kai Petainen

Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 2:57 p.m.

into a pool... how about setting up so they jump in the huron river?


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Yeah. There were 15,000 runners at Big Heart. I still can't believe UM pulled out of that.


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:29 p.m.

They've signed up 400 people eh? Looks like this charity event has completely eclipsed the Big Heart, Big House run. Good luck to everybody -


Sat, Feb 23, 2013 : 1:09 p.m.

I have two grandsons who participate in the Special Olympics and know exactly how important this is to them and many, many others. God bless each and everyone of you who decided to take the plunge. The funds go toward a very worthy program. Have plenty of hot chocolate when you get out.