Plungers make splash in fight against cancer

Photos by Daniel Vasta/The Herald
Lilly McMickle, 14, of Huntingburg, left, and her sister, Lola, 11, run into the water during the Plunge for Dubois County at the Ferdinand State Forest's lake on Sunday. 

By BILL POWELL
bpowell@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — More than 40 hardy souls participated Sunday in the eighth Plunge for Dubois County, earning T-shirts explaining they were “Freezin’ For A Reason” at Ferdinand State Forest’s lake.

“It wouldn’t be any fun if it was warm,” Plunge organizer Eric Uebelhor told the chilled throng moments before an invocation by Forest Park Head Football Coach Ross Fuhs.

The air temperature hit 38 degrees by the time registration ended and attendees began splashing about.

This year’s plungers and those pledging support for them donated more than $3,500 to benefit the Lange-Fuhs Cancer Center, the Dubois County Leukemia Association and area food banks. In its eight years of existence, the Plunge has raised more than $42,000 for local charities.

Amber Berg-Horney of St. Anthony dries off after jumping in the water during the Plunge for Dubois County at the Ferdinand State Forest's lake on Sunday. 

The event began in 2012 as the Plunge for Paul to help raise funds for Pine Ridge Elementary student Paul Fischer’s medical expenses as the youth, who passed in 2013, fought a brain tumor. Paul’s father, Jay, and friends in the SP&F (youth football) family have continued the event ever since to raise funds for worthy causes and families.

While SP&F is the nonprofit organizing the event, no proceeds go into football coffers.

“What we take in we give away,” Uebelhor said.

This year’s throng included 11 first-time plungers like Greg “Bubba” Ubelhor and Chris Braunecker. The Ferdinand residents ran into the lake side by side.

“I’ve always wanted to try it,” Ubelhor, 43, said. “I don’t have a bucket list but I’m getting older. The things I’ve wanted to do, I’m just going to start doing them.”

After they returned to shore and caught their breath, both men indicated they would do it again.

Plunger awards for the oldest participants went to 59-year-old Scott Uebelhor and 61-year-old Jackie Uebelhor. The youngest plunger was 10-year-old Chase O’Brien, son of Chris and Jennifer O’Brien of Stendal.

While recognized as this year’s youngest to take a dip, Chase was a three-time veteran who began his plunge career during a year chain saws were used to cut a hole in the ice-covered lake.

Sponsors underwriting this year’s expenses were Sun Energy Group, Carpet Warehouse, Henke Farms Inc., Mariah Hill YMI, Thermwood, Ferdinand Farmers Insurance Group, Kyana Woodstock, Quality Mill Supply Co. and Flip & Twist Gymnastics, Cheer & Dance.

Attendees keep warm around a fire before the Plunge for Dubois County at the Ferdinand State Forest's lake on Sunday.
Chris Horney of St. Anthony, right, and his stepson, Trevor Berg, 13, dry off after jumping in the water during the Plunge for Dubois County at the Ferdinand State Forest's lake on Sunday. 



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