Freeze! Park Ridge cops take ‘Polar Plunge’ for charity
The Park Ridge Police Department's Polar Patrol team splash in the waters of Lake Michigan during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge 2012 on Feb. 25. The event raised money for Special Olympics Illinois. | Michael Jarecki~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 2, 2012 8:32AM
It was far from ideal swimming weather, but the Lake Michigan shoreline in Evanston was packed with bathers Feb. 25 when Special Olympics Illinois hosted the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge.
Several representatives from the Park Ridge Police Department, some joined by family members, waded through the icy waters off Northwestern University’s North Beach while raising more than $3,200 for Special Olympics.
“I prepared myself a little better than the year before,” acknowledged Park Ridge Police Officer Julie Genualdi. “The feet weren’t so bad because we put some toe heaters in our shoes. That was my strategy for this year.”
Genualdi’s daughter, Caitlyn Weldon, and niece, Samantha Witz, joined her for the brief, though still chilly, swim, as did Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski; Lt. Duane Mellema and his sons, Jake, 12, and Ethan, 14; Sev Meneshian, a financial planner for the Police Department; and Sgt. Ron Brandt, of the Niles Police Department.
“It was really fun. Very exciting,” Genualdi said.
Katie Grisham, director of Special Olympics Area 5, said 245 volunteers took the plunge, raising about $87,000. That was almost double the amount raised last year.
In addition to the Park Ridge Police Department’s Polar Patrol team, representatives from the Evanston, Forest Park, Bloomingdale and Illinois State Police Departments also took part in the Polar Plunge, as did a group of 70 people from Northwestern’s Kellog School of Management who raised more than $20,000 in donations, Grisham said.