Virtual Polar Plunge left in the cold

Natali Trivuncic
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Voyageur Lions Club Polar Plunge, a usually well participated fundraising event run by the club saw a less than average outcome for its virtual Polar Plunge event this year.

The event which is usually held at Point Park nearby La Place Rendezvous Hotel on the shores of Rainy Lake was forced to be held virtually due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The virtual plunge was to take place over the course of 15 days from Jan. 1 to 15 where participants would film themselves performing their own version of the plunge and raise funds for the charity of their choice as well as the Voyageur Lions Club. The videos would then be complied into one video to be shared.

Bill Michl, co-organizer of the Voyageur Lions Club Polar Plunge said they had hoped to get at least 60 people to take part but Michl turned out to be the only participant.

“I was the only one that put a video in and I put it in more or less to show people what they could do but it turns out that a lot of people talked about it but nobody went out and did it,” Michl said. “I think that people like an audience when you’re doing something really stupid. It’s a kind of event that is way better in person than virtual.”

Michl said that the Polar Plunge is one of their big fundraisers and now he is just hoping to raise enough to pay for the ads that they put out and break even.

“On a good year we’ve made almost $20,000 and on a bad year we make about $2,500 so we’re going to miss out on quite a bit of our money that we generally put back into the public and we’ll have to come up with something else,” Michl said.

Michl said by the end of the month he is hoping to raise $1,000.

“You don’t want to go out and ask people for pledges because everybody’s kind of hurting during this time so maybe that had a lot to do with it too,” Michl said.

He said he hopes the pandemic will be over by next January and they will be able to host the Polar Plunge as it has been for many years.

The Voyageur Lions Club is set to host its Jail or Bail fundraiser in April. Michl said they hope it will not be cancelled as last year’s event was because of COVID.

April 2020 would have made it the eighth year that the Voyageur Lions Club held the event.

Michl said the club has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a lack of fundraising. He adds that they have some money to support foundations and the programs that they provide but if not much changes after June, then their budget for next year will be very slim.

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