Volunteers, celebrities get cold for a cause at the Polar Plunge

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CHICAGO -- At North Avenue beach, thousands took part in an annual tradition along Chicago’s lakefront Sunday, diving into the cold waters of Lake Michigan to raise money for Special Olympics Chicago.

"We feel very blessed to be a part of this organization and to sponsor this event because we think it’s really important," said plunger Sarah Ruhl.

For years the event has drawn celebrities, and this year former Chicago Bear Brian Urlacher took to the Johnsonville Grill, cooking up food for attendees wanting to make a difference.

"I’ve supported special olympics my whole career," Urlacher said. "I would try and do as much stuff as I could."

While many dress up in costumes to have a good time with friends, the heart of it is personal for many.

Saiddan Miller of the Wounded Warriors Project said it's very personal for him and his autistic daughter.

"On those days when it’s just the family and nobody else it can get hard, but then when you realize that there are so many people out here that care, it’s incredible," Miller said.