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Polar Plunge Brings Thousands to the Beach

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Rochester: Polar Plunge Brings Thousands to the Beach
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It's an annual event that's usually the only reason thousands head to the beach on a brisk February day.

"It's perfect for a swim," said participant Courtney Singer.

The sun might be shining on Lake Ontario in Charlotte, but the roughly 20 degree temperatures made it far from beach weather.

"It's cold. It's cold," said plunger Lori Schribe.

A nearly record breaking crowd marched down the beach to brave the plunge.

"We're crazy, that's what's up with it," said Singer.

Running into a lake on a cold winter day may look crazy, but to many the annual Polar Plunge is about the cause.

"The three of us went to school for education and special education and it's really important to us and it's a really a good cause, but we're freezing. I can't feel my feet," said participant Samantha Murphy.

Medical emergency crews from throughout the county were on standby while all types of teams dressed up as U.S. presidents, comic book characters and bravely underdressed beachgoers took a brief dip.

Max Rodriguez brought his family, which included one of the youngest plungers of them all.

"We brought our little six year old with us," said Rodriguez. He patted his other son on the shoulder. "He's nine and we're having a good time."

This year's plunge was expected to bring out more than 2,000 participants. Organizers say 1,600 people pre-registered already setting a record.

"This is the equivalent to an X-Games competition where you don't have to be an athlete," said organizer Sal Gerbino. "You can come out on one of the coldest days of the year, the most inclement weather, jump into a frozen lake and make a claim to it."

The plunge is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run's off season fundraiser for the Special Olympics. Money raised will benefit athletes in the Genesee region.

"Our fundraising goal this year is a mere quarter of a million dollars. We're confident we can break $200,000. We'd love to get up to that $250,000 mark," said Gerbino.

For some, that's enough of a reason to do it all over again next year.

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