Seymour mayor reaches Super Plunger status

Doing one Polar Plunge this year just wasn’t enough for Seymour Mayor Matt Nicholson.

He wanted to be a Super Plunger.

To accomplish that, he needed to raise at least $4,000 and do at least two Polar Plunges, including the final one of the season Saturday at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis.

After participating in the Borden Plunge on Feb. 11 at Deam Lake State Recreation Area in Borden, Nicholson was $1,312 away from reaching $4,000.

He was able to raise that and more, finishing with $4,327.

So he made his way up to Indianapolis on Saturday, took the plunge and claimed his prize, a Polar Bears baseball jersey.

Nicholson was among nearly 400 participants who combined to raise more than $107,000 for Special Olympics Indiana, a nonprofit organization that provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in more than 20 Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities ages 8 and up.

Fundraisers such as the Polar Plunge, the organization’s signature fundraiser, allow athletes to participate at no cost. Indiana has more than 16,000 athletes.

Heading to his second plunge of the season, Nicholson admitted he was a little nervous because he knew his Seymour Tsunamis teammates wouldn’t be there cheering him on as he entered the cold water. The Tsunamis represent Special Olympics Indiana Jackson County.

“After arriving at the event, I quickly realized that my worries were for nothing because the fine plungers at this event are the same as they are all over the state, cheering each other on and making it fun for everyone,” he said. “The Super Plungers group had nice folks from all over the state, some of which had plunged dozens of times over the years. We even had a plunger who was in a wheelchair and had a support team to help her into the water.”

Nicholson said he chatted and cheered with her as her team went back in to go under after they got her back to shore.

“From this experience, I made new friends and am sure that I will be shooting for Super Plunger status in 2024 because I know firsthand how much fun our area athletes have during the different Special Olympics seasons and that this is the program’s largest fundraiser each year and helps keep everything free for the athletes,” he said.

Next year, Nicholson said he hopes a teammate or two can join him as a Super Plunger and experience this next step in being a Polar Plunger for themselves.

For 2023, Nicholson helped the Seymour Tsunamis raise around $11,000, which is a record in the five years of the team’s existence.

“Thank you to all the donors that helped me clear over $4,300 and all of them who helped our team raise over $11,000 this year for Special Olympics,” he said. “We get cold, but we couldn’t do it without all of your help. I hope to see all of our teammates back for 2024, and maybe if we are lucky, we will add some new faces and some new Super Plungers along the way.”

The Tsunamis also set a record this year with 30 plungers at Borden. The day of that plunge, they had combined to raise more than $10,500.

In the first year, 2019, the Tsunamis’ six plungers raised $900, while a team of four teachers raised $1,610 and did the Versailles Polar Plunge.

Since then, the number of plungers at Borden has gone from eight in 2020 to 12 in 2021 to 15 in 2022 and then doubling this year, and the amount raised went from $2,967 to $7,400 and then down to $6,800.

This was Nicholson’s fourth year participating but first time doing two plunges.

“The first time I plunged, I was welcomed like a member of the family and have enjoyed it ever since. Well, as much as you can enjoy venturing into a cold lake on a February day,” he said.

For 2023, there were 15 sites for the Polar Plunge season in Indiana. Each winter, individuals and teams brave the elements by taking an icy dip to demonstrate their commitment to the cause.

Along with “Freezin’ for a reason,” this year’s plungers were encouraged to “Be bold. Get cold.” Participants needed to raise a minimum of $85 for the opportunity to plunge. By raising the “bear” minimum, they received a long-sleeve Polar Plunge shirt. If they hit $300, $500 or $1,000 or more, they earned other prizes, including a tumbler, a beach towel or a duffel bag.

At each plunge site, special awards were given for best costume, most money raised by an individual and most money raised by a team.