Ready for a swim? Second year of winter plunge at Lake Jax

By Jim McCabe on February 22 at 1:03pm

This week’s warm weather made it possible for a few West Central Illinoisans to jump into Lake Jacksonville this morning.

The second annual Polar Bear Plunge took place on the north side of the lake, with about 15 people jumping in under the supervision of the Morgan County Search and Dive Rescue Team.

The event is a fundraiser for the Hobby Horse House of Jacksonville. Organizer Jaimie Engle-Newby says although Hobby Horse is state-funded, the money source is questionable, and so the organization relies heavily on local fundraising and grant-writing.

Last week’s chili cook-off at the Jacksonville Airport was also a fundraiser for Hobby Horse.

“It’s kind of our fundraising season so that we can help continue to provide local various services that we do for the community, including private adoption services, foster children services, divorced and positive parenting classes, just a lot of child and family welfare activities,” says Engle-Newby.


The jumpers were a mixture of college students and other community members. MacMurray College junior Brooke Lovekamp says being a social work major played a factor in her decision to sign up.

“It’s a really good cause, and it funds great things for children, and that’s basically why I was interested in it,” Lovekamp says.

Fellow junior Kaitlyn Gotthardt, also a social work major, wore pajamas.

“It keeps you warm. I feel like if I’m going to jump in a lake, and it’s going to be really cold water, I feel like at least I should have some warm clothing on,” says Gotthardt. “I saw them chiseling the ice away this morning when I got here, and I was like ‘great’.”

Hobby Horse House charged $50 for non-students and $30 for students. About ten people showed up last year. Everyone got in- and out- safely.