Thousands take ‘polar plunge’ into Lake Michigan

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With beachfront snow plowed back to reveal a frigid layer of slush, more than 1,000 Chicagoans turned out Sunday morning to take a dip in the 32-degree waters of Lake Michigan.

Organizers hoped the annual Polar Plunge held at North Avenue Beach would raise $1 million for Special Olympics.

Lisa Ousley-Taylor, a special education teacher from Flossmoor, was preparing for her first dive. Ousley-Taylor said she was there for her students, whom she’s been taking to Special Olympics events since the 1980s.

Special Olympics “changes everything about the participant,” she said. “It gives them self-confidence.”

As her turn to dive approached, Ousley-Taylor could have used some of that self confidence. “I’m terrified,” she said.

Several politicians and cast members from NBC’s “Chicago Fire” were on hand to jump in the lake.

By Mitchell Smith Tribune reporter

Twitter: @ChicagoBreaking

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