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 Over 625 "Plungers" Participate

Taking the Plunge for a Good Cause:

Labovitz School of Business and Economics Helps Raise a Record $100,000 for Duluth Special Olympics at Polar Bear Plunge

Saturday, February 20 was a sunny, crisp, and cold 25 degrees Fahrenheit when over 625 “plungers” jumped into Lake Superior in a grand event staged to raise money for the Duluth Special Olympics. The Labovitz School of Business & Economics (LSBE) was a proud sponsor of the Duluth Polar Bear Plunge, joining with the Duluth Police Department and JNBA Financial Advisors in raising a record $100,000 for the Duluth All-Stars.

Polar Plunge
Duluth Polar Bear Plunge participants brave frigid waters for a good cause. Photo: Devan Burnett/Statesman

Alongside LSBE Dean Kjell Knudsen and LSBE Financial Markets Program Director Joe Artim were hundreds of UMD students, Duluth Police officers, and community members who braved the icy waters dressed in a variety of eye-catching costumes and clothing. The frosty air was filled with cheers, shouts, songs, and slogans along with the spirit of good fun and fellowship. Duluth Mayor Don Ness led the charge

After the “plunge” hundreds of proud revelers gathered at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Canal Park for pizza and prizes and winning announcements.

UnitedHealthcare of Duluth won first place for Team Fundraising with a grand total of $21,740.66 raised. Joe Artim, LSBE Financial Markets director, took first place for Individual Fundraising having collected a total of $3,495.00. Artim garnered a prize of a one-year gift certificate ($25 per month) to a local restaurant—a prize which his Lake Superior-initiated students were very eager to share with him.

The grand prize raffle ticket (for those who raised a minimum of $75) was for a 2010 Ski-Doo MXZ600 snowmobile with a custom Labovitz School of Business and Economics/Special Olympics paint scheme designed by a UMD School of Fine Arts student. The snowmobile was donated by JNBA. Helmet and clothing were included.

The ticket was drawn--and the winner was--Dean Kjell Knudsen! Dean Knudsen graciously returned his matching ticket and asked that there be a second drawing. That winner was a very grateful and happy young man who was a “plunger” that day. He and his buddies (all “plungers”) had raised over $200.

Richard Brown, a newly named Senior Fellow at the Labovitz School, is on the board of Special Olympics Minnesota. LSBE was eager and proud to partner with Special Olympics through Brown--who, along with his wife--was also a Lake Superior “plunger”. “UMD students really stepped up. Their enthusiasm for this event was inspiring. The money that they raised will help a lot of Special Olympians in Minnesota,” Brown said.

"In the Labovitz School, we have a long history of outreach and engaging students and staff in community causes," said Dean Knudsen who took the plunge himself. "We were thrilled by the LSBE student turn out. They really helped to make this event a success. I can’t wait to do it again next year."

Matt Nyman
LSBE senior Matt Nyman, in proper business attire, emerges from the lake after his jump.
Mat Zweibel
LSBE senior Mat Zwiebel moments before he hit the waters of Lake Superior.
Matt Nyman, a senior in the LSBE Financial Markets Program, enjoyed plunging for a worthy cause. “I’ve always wanted to try the Polar Plunge, and being able to support the Special Olympics simultaneously was the clincher,” Nyman said. “Sure the water is freezing cold at first, but once you get out, it’s quite refreshing. And many of us would love to jump again next year,” he added.

Megan Powell, special events coordinator for Special Olympics Minnesota, is extremely grateful for LSBE and UMD’s involvement, and the fact that $40,000 more were raised this year over last. “It was such a huge increase and really helped grow the event,” Powell said.

The Duluth Polar Bear Plunge raised funds for Minnesota Special Olympics athletes, including the Duluth All-Stars, one of the state's largest delegations. The Duluth All-Stars have approximately 255 athletes on their team roster and compete in 17 different sports. They were awarded Special Olympics Minnesota "Delegation of the Year" in 2009 and host five different area competitions in Duluth throughout the year.

Funding from events such as the Polar Bear Plunge provide opportunities for Special Olympic athletes to have health screenings as well as training and leadership opportunities. In 2009, the healthy athletes program screened over 2,500 athletes and 253 of them also participated in the athlete leadership program.

Top Fundraisers:

Joe Artim
Richard Brown
Jill Foucre
UnitedHealthcare - Duluth
The FMPlungers *
Win This Snowmobile

*The FMPlungers" represented LSBE and was comprised of 14 LSBE Financial Markets Program students, 2 LSBE students close to the Program, Dean Kjell Knudsen, Development Director Lawrence Johnson, and Financial Markets Program Director Joe Artim.

Written by Susan Latto,

Additional text by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann,

UMD home page editor, Cheryl Reitan,
NEW RELEASES, UMD media contact, Susan Latto,, 218-726-8830

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Last modified on 04/22/11 02:37 PM
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