Thousands jump into Lake Michigan’s icy waters in the name of charity

CHICAGO — If revenge is a dish best served cold, Chicago got a big helping Sunday.

With temperatures in the teens and water just about freezing, around 4,500 people participated in the Polar Plunge at North Avenue Beach, diving into Lake Michigan's cold waters.

It began 19 years ago, when just 50 people took the plunge and raised about $8,000. The money all goes to Special Olympics Chicago, supporting programs which give children and adults with intellectual disabilities a chance to compete. Matt O’Shea has done the plunge since the start, and now works for Special Olympics.

"So far today, we’ve raised $1.6 million, hopeful that we will get to $2 million more... all for programming for our Special Olympic athletes," O’Shea said.

Before a cheering gallery of drier fans, volunteers, athletes, local celebrities and volunteers all "freezing for a reason" jumped into Lake Michigan Sunday.

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