Lake Norman & Mooresville

Group plans Polar Bear Plunge to raise money for charity

If you happen to be near The Point Lake and Golf Club in Mooresville this New Year's Day, you might see an unusual sight: more than 100 people in the frigid waters of Lake Norman.

This event started almost two years ago, when Lou Ascanio, Dan Farley, Greg Jackson, Kevin Walsh and Michael "Bo" Watson plunged into Lake Norman on Jan. 1, 2009.

These five friends, all residents of The Point and in their mid-40s, decided to start the New Year with a new tradition: a plunge into Lake Norman.

"New Year's Day 2009 was the start of a new year following the financial meltdown, and we looked at the 'plunge' as a nutty way to start 2009 off fresh. Some kind of 'cleansing' of sorts," said plunge founder Watson.

After the first plunge, the five friends warmed up over discussion of how fortunate they were and what they could do to help the community. Together they each donated $100 to Hope at the Point Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity.

Then, on New Year's Day 2010, the five took another plunge into Lake Norman. This time, however, when they entered the 41-degree waters, they had 50 new participants. In addition, they increased the money raised to more than $7,000.

For the next New Year's Day event, the Polar Bear group hopes to have 150 to 200 participants and raise more than $25,000.

In addition, the Polar Bear Plunge is being organized by Hope at the Point and will benefit the Mooresville Soup Kitchen and Stop Child Abuse Now.

"If you are a person who is fun, daring, a little bit nutty and enjoy participating in a community-focused event, this is a great way to give back and a fun way to start the New Year," said Watson.