Andrew Dys

February 23, 2013

Polar Plunge: Dozens rush into Lake Wylie for Special Olympics

From Wonder Woman to Mr. T, the bravest souls in York County ran into the frigid waters of Lake Wylie Saturday to raise money for Special Olympics. (UPDATED W/ VIDEO)

It is not every day that Wonder Woman, wearing the barest of bathing suits, her hair flowing behind like an Amazon, rushes headlong into an almost-frozen lake as rain beats down on a 39-degree gray day.

But Wonder Woman ran into the 30-something degree Lake Wylie Saturday, claiming her super powers would keep her cold.

“I am super!” claimed Wonder Woman.

She ran headlong into the water that should have had ice on it, it seemed so cold. The water felt like spears from an evil monger trying to take over the world..

Wonder Woman was wrong.

“Cold!” Wonder Woman shouted, as she left the water like it has crocodiles in it.

Neither do people who wander upon York County’s Ebenezer Park on the shores of Lake Wylie normally see Mr. T, in miniature at 4 feet 7 inches tall but with gold chains nonetheless, rush into the water in winter. Or a guy wearing a bikini, another guy in a Tuxedo, and a Green Hornet and Captain America and teens in tutus and boxers and nothing else but a frozen smile.

But dozens of volunteers, the strongest of heart, paid $50 apiece and raised thousands of dollars in donations for the chance to freeze their, umm, toes off.

And everything over the toes froze, at the second annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. All the money goes to put on the annual Area 11 Special Olympics Spring games where more than 1,100 athletes from York, Chester and Lancaster counties ran and throw and achieve the greatest milestones of all: Trying their best.

Mr. T. was 9 year-old Trey Mungo, a Special Olympian from Rosewood Elementary School in Rock Hill and special guy for sure. Even the gold chains got wet.

“Worth every frozen second,” said Will Brown, 16, who ran in wearing a Green Hornet costume with his 14-year-old brother and Special Olympian, Christopher. Christopher was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle but no shell could keep him warm. “Christopher’s Crazies” raised hundreds of dollars, and could tell their friends they went swimming Saturday outdoors and not lie.

From Northwestern High School the Junior Civitans group of Missy Lehman, advisor, and students Jamison Humburg, Ivy Muckra, and Alexander and Natalie Raymond raised $530. Humburg ran in wearing just shorts. Natalie wore a tutu.

“Worth it,” both said, as they shivered and smiled.

But kids were not the only runners who turned into swimmers. Plenty of adults who should know better, including a bunch from the Rock Hill Parks, Recreation and Tourism department who assist special needs clients all year round, ran, swam, flopped, fell, jumped, splashed, and carried on like sailors on shore leave.

Right there head and shoulders above them all stood Wonder Woman. Ms. Wonder, or Ms. Woman, whatever she is called as there was no Wonder Woman husband tough or crazy enough to jump in the lake, won best costume and received a medal.

Except the medal was a metal old heater, broken.

Then she still rushed into the water with a smile.

Wonder Woman’s real name is Jennifer Hardin.

“Call me Wonder Woman,” she said. “Cold Wonder Woman.”

Want to help?

Donations are still being accepted for the Area 11 Spring games. On the web go to or call 803-327-9320.


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