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Posted on Sat, Feb 11, 2012 : 2:29 p.m.

Frozen Leap: Jumping into ice-cold Ford Lake to benefit the homeless

By Lisa Carolin

What makes normally rational adults paint themselves or dress in costumes and jump into a frigid lake on a really cold February day?

The fourth annual Ford Lake Frozen Leap, of course.

The Ypsilanti Township event took place from mid-morning into the afternoon Saturday and will benefit SOS Community Services. This year's goal is to raise $10,000.

"Our main goal is, and always has been to make a positive impact on our local community," said Bilal Saeed, one of the founders of the event. Saeed works for a company called Pakmode in Ypsilanti, which specializes in media, marketing and event planning.

"We wanted to do something different and fun to encourage the youth of our community to give back," said Jennifer Radziszewski, who works with Lake Shore Apartments, which has more than 1,000 homes by Ford Lake and its own Frozen Leap team. Radziszewski is also one of the founders of the event.

During the last three years, more than $15,000 has been raised by the Frozen Leap.

On Saturday, at least 60 jumpers took the plunge, including Eastern Michigan University student Joel Diaz, an experienced participant.

"I'm on a team called 'Lions, tigers, and bears oh my' with Detroiters and one person from Chicago," said Diaz. "It seems like you stay in the water longer than you actually do.

"You jump in and kick hard to come back up and swim fast because the water is way colder than the air."

John Sullivan, jumping up and down to stay warm as the wind chill reached negative numbers, was psyching himself into making his leap into the lake.

"This is beautiful weather!" he said. "I'm picturing beaches and daiquiris."

Three members of Saline High School's crew team were huddled together, scantily clad under a blanket, anticipating their lake jumps.

"We row on this lake," said Ben Friman.

"I'm looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment," said Sarah Buckeridge.

With her whole body shaking, crew member Katie Stimac said, "I'm looking forward to getting it over with!"

When a jumper exits the water, someone covers him or her with a blanket, and then the jumper enters a tent where they find warm water, a towel and another blanket.

Jumpers bring a change of clothes, which they put on in the heated tent.

Members of the Ypsilanti Township Fire Department, the Washtenaw County Hazmat Response Team, and members of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's dive team were all on hand.

"The contribution from this event will help us to feed more hungry children, provide shelter to homeless families and other supportive services," said Chelsea Clark from SOS Community Services.

Clark says SOS is housing 62 families and serving an average of 75 families on food distribution day.

Beezy's and Buffalo Wild Wings, Simply Delicious Catering,, The Blanket Express, David Fantera, Daytona Construction, Erie Investments, and Bank of Ann Arbor and Community Driven Credit Union all donated to this year's Ford Lake Frozen Leap.

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SOS Community Services

Mon, Feb 13, 2012 : 2:43 p.m.

Special thanks to everyone who made this event possibleā€¦all the contributors and leapers! Because of you, SOS Community Services can continue to help prevent and end homelessness for those in Washtenaw County.


Sun, Feb 12, 2012 : 3:52 p.m.

I give them as much credit for jumping into that nasty lake as jumping into the icy water ( BTW I fish and will eat the walleye out of Ford and I used to ski it when it was probably worse than it is now )


Sun, Feb 12, 2012 : 3:05 p.m.

Of course it couldn't happen on one of the many 40-50 degree days we've had this winter.


Sun, Feb 12, 2012 : 1:32 a.m.

Thanks for the coverage. Total fundraising dollars came in and we raised $10,300 for SOS Community Services who really, really needed the help. Not only are they a great organization, but they have some really great people running it. You can view more pictures on iSPY Magazine's facebook page at: <a href="" rel='nofollow'>;type=3</a> Thanks again, see you next year!


Sat, Feb 11, 2012 : 10:11 p.m.

I would be willing to break my toe to keep from doing this! Not saying that was what Ellen did.


Sat, Feb 11, 2012 : 9:32 p.m.

Reminds me of morning swim practice!


Sun, Feb 12, 2012 : 2:12 p.m.

Reminds me of ice skating practice. Glad I was home and bundled up.

Monica R-W

Sat, Feb 11, 2012 : 8:22 p.m.

Nice story. Thanks We need more community advocacy stories like these!