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Posted on Mon, Feb 25, 2013 : 6:30 p.m.

First-ever Big House polar plunge attracts 310 participants and raises $130,000

By Kellie Woodhouse

The first-ever Special Olympics Polar Plunge at Michigan Stadium raised $130,000 in donations, attracting roughly 310 participants and more than 3,060 donors.


Plungers during the Feb. 23 Michigan Stadium polar plunge.

Courtney Sacco | For

Kimberly Purdy, development officer of Special Olympics Michigan, said the charity organization and the University of Michigan plan to host another plunge next winter.

The amount raised and turnout of the Feb. 23 event was significantly high for a first-time fundraiser.

"Let's face it. it's the Big House," Purdy said, explaining that just one other plunge in the state is more successful. The Detroit plunge attracts 500 plungers and roughly raises $190,000.

"You have athletic departments raising money for athletes," she said. "That's an incredible, natural partnership."

So natural, in fact, that Michigan State University is thinking of hosting their own polar plunge "to get a little rivalry going" with U-M, Purdy said.

The two schools already are holding rival fundraisers this month to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Michigan.

Top fundraising teams include the 22-person 'Team Saline,' which raised $15,235, and the 'Letterwinners M Club,' which was composed of two former U-M student athletes who raised $11,257.

The top two individual fundraisers were Michael Spath, who raised $8,360 and Ryan Bertin, who raised $6,282 and was a member of the Letterwinners M Club.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Tue, Feb 26, 2013 : 8:08 p.m.

This is a great event for a largely overlooked cause. I hope most of this money makes it's way to the organization. This is desperatly needed.