People in hula costumes, animal onesies and American flag gear jogged in place to stay warm as they listened to an opening speech outside the L.A. Pittenger Student Center. 

When the speech was done, the first Phi Sigma Kappa member climbed the ladder while cheers erupted from the crowd. As his splash sprayed those who stood too close, the Ball State 2018 Polar Plunge began.

Phi Sigma Kappa and the Special Olympics raised $4,958 after 44 jumpers initiated the 2018 Polar Plunge challenge in 22 degree weather Saturday morning.

Participants jumped into an above ground pool filled by the Muncie Fire Department with more than 1,500 gallons of 40 degree water. 

“We started with the 500 gallons of water in the firetruck, which didn’t even fill a third of the pool,” Lt. Chris Thompson from the Muncie Fire Department said. “Then we hooked up to the fire hydrant that draws water from more than three feet underground to fill the rest.”

Thompson also said the water would be the warmest place for jumpers while they were wet, but staying in the water too long could lead to hypothermia.

Kyle Hayes, Phi Sigma Kappa’s philanthropy chair and the first person to register for the plunge, said that jumping was not as bad as he thought it would be. 

“I was dreading the event for about 36 hours beforehand, but when I actually did it, it wasn’t that bad,” Hayes said. “I went into shock for the first 30 seconds, but it's a lot of fun. It provides a thrill.”

The members of Phi Sigma Kappa were the first to jump into the water, but they were soon followed by other students, including senior finance major Chase Heaton.

“I’ve taken the plunge four times now,” Heaton said. “I think the Special Olympics is important and so is this. This gets people out of their comfort zones, and I think that's a good thing."

Special Olympics members from Henry county also joined in the plunge, and Teresa Burns, an active Special Olympics athlete, received the award for raising the most money individually with $375.

While the water was cold, Burns said she was excited to participate in an event that helps her friends. 

“The Special Olympics would not be able to function without this event,” said Julie Burkholder, the regional manager for the Special Olympics. “This is the fundraiser that provides our athletes with the opportunities they have. They get opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have, and we are so grateful."

Contact Tier Morrow with comments at tkmorrow@bsu.edu.