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La Crosse mayor takes the plunge

Mayor Tim Kabat dives into freezing water to support Special Olympics

La Crosse mayor takes the plunge

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Hundreds of people were "Freezin' For A Reason" on Saturday after they participated in this year's Polar Plunge at Pettibone Beach.

Those who decided to take the plunge raised money for the Special Olympics and then ran into the freezing cold water.

For many plungers, taking a dip in the icy cold Mississippi River is a tradition, but it was definitely a day of firsts for a few in particular. This year, La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat pledged to take his first dive, but admits he was a little nervous.

Kabat said he's donated money in the past, but wants to do something a little extra this year.

"This has become such a huge event and so great for La Crosse and our community so I wanted to offer my small show of support by getting wet and cold today," said Kabat.

However, he said it's not without a little hesitation.

"I'll admit I am a little afraid of being very very cold and just what the reaction will be so hopefully I don't embarrass myself," said Kabat.

Kabat wasn't about to do it by himself so he asked La Crosse City Council members to join him, but only three said yes.

"I've fallen in cold water before, but this is the first time I am doing it intentionally," said Paul Medinger, La Crosse City Council District 14.

With only four brave souls in this group, what are the chances someone will back out?

"They can't now. The ramifications of chickening out now would be bad for them so they better make sure they are right there," said Kabat.

"We've got a good crew. It's just going to be a matter of how far in are we going to go," said Medinger.

If you ask Mayor Kabat, he said they are going all the way.

"We are going all the way under, none of this up to your knees business; we are going all the way under," said Kabat.

As Kabat promised, he completely submerged himself under the ice cold Mississippi water.

"I had to do that, I couldn't just go half way, you gotta do it all out," said Kabat.

Kabat said he had so much fun that he is looking forward to doing it next year too.

"Great time, great cause and a great group of people," said Kabat.

Organizers say it was the coldest Polar Plunge of the year, so a big congratulations to all those who braved the cold weather and plunged into the Mississippi River on Saturday.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke also took a dip in the freezing water for the first time as well. Burke took the same approach Mayor Kabat did and dove all the way under the water. She said she's happy to help raise money and awareness for such a great cause.

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