Who would willingly jump into into a Lake St. Clair canal on a frigid February afternoon?

Supporters of the Special Olympics and others, that’s who.

The Macomb County Polar Plunge makes its return to the MacRay Harbor Banquet Center, 30675 North Road in Harrison Township at noon Saturday. The event was previously held in 2019 and 2020, and shifted to a virtual format because of the pandemic in 2021.

“The Polar Plunge is the single largest fundraiser for Special Olympics Michigan,” organizers said a news release. “All funds raised by Plungers help Special Olympics provide year-round training and services to thousands of athletes with intellectual disabilities across the state.”

As of Feb. 8, the Macomb Plunge raised more than $34,300 with hopes of hitting a $45,000 goal.

The Polar Plunge is cold weather tradition that raises funds for the Special Olympics. Across Michigan, brave souls raise money for the organization and then commit to jumping into a lake or pool despite the frigid temperatures outdoors – and they are more than happy to do so.

Polar Plunges are insanely popular. People often participate as part of a group or organization, but many individuals who believe in raising money for a good cause also do their part.

Participating teams include:
• Macomb Correctional Facility: a team of employees from the Lenox Township facility
• Suzzie Mac’s Pac: a community team plunging to honor the memory of a former local  Special Education teacher
• Real Estate One Charitable Foundation: Realtors and employees of the Real Estate One family of
companies

• Warren Police FOP 124: Local Law Enforcement representatives who support Special Olympics year-
round

Team Suzzie Mac’s Pac are pictured at a Detroit Plunge at Atwater Brewery in 2020.(PHOTO COURTESY OF KAITLYN McINTYRE-PANZA)

For Kaitlyn McIntyre-Panza, head of the Suzzie Mac’s Pac, the plunge is personal. The team consists of four McIntyre siblings who have plunged in honor of their late Susan McIntyre, who worked in Special Education for more than 30 years.

“She instilled inclusivity into the fabric of our family and was a fierce advocate for the medical needs of Macomb County students,” she said.

The National Weather Service’s forecast calls for cloudy skies and a high of 19 degrees Saturday. Repeat plungers like Nick DeVault don’horizon mind because he’s doing it for his students involved in Special Olympics.

“Each year, I think ‘what am I doing here in this cold weather,’” joked DeVault, principal of Lutz School in Clinton Township who heads Team MISD.

Lutz School is a post secondary school of young adults with disabilities. He plunges in support of students involved with Special Olympics.

“But I have been so impressed with Special Olympics where I’ve served as a chaperone and volunteer. We have lot of students that go to the Special Olympics, and it’s undoubtedly, the happiest place. The participants become like family and are super supportive of each other,” he said.

The weekend also includes a virtual Frozen 5K and a Friday night Polar Plunge Pre-Splash Bash at MacRay. For a paling kecil $5 donation, guests can enjoy entertainment by the band Priceless, a cash restoran and a chance to win a raffle for some great prizes.

For more information or to make a donation online, visit PlungeMI.org.