It was like nothing Tres Grant had ever experienced.


It was like nothing Tres Grant had ever experienced.

   The 17-year-old Louisiana resident was one of more than 30 people who took part in Saturday’s “Freezin’ for a Reason” Polar Plunge to benefit Special Olympics.

   The event was part of the annual Winter River Festival, which included a 5K run/walk, wine tastings, craft show and a melting sculpture called the “House of Fire and Ice.”

   The plunge into the icy Mississippi River was the first for Grant, and he had a hard time coming up with a metaphor that would adequately describe what he admitted was not a normal activity.

   “I couldn’t talk,” Grant said. “I couldn’t breathe. It feels like being locked in a freezer.”

   Fourteen-year-old Courtney Sandholm of Louisiana also was taking the dip for the first time.

   “It looked exciting last year when I watched it,” she said. “I’m crazy enough to do it.”

   Other participants weren’t as…uh…susceptible to the bitter temperature.

   “I don’t think it was that cold,” said 18-year-old Amy Martin of Elsberry. “My whole body was numb, so I couldn’t feel anything.”

   “It was a fund experience,” said Martin’s friend, 18-year-old Carley Herring of Elsberry. “It was something to say you’ve done.”

   John Waite of the Louisiana Police Department couldn’t convince any of his colleagues to join him for the short run into and out of the river.

   “I was the lone man out,” Waite said.

   Proceeds were estimated at more than $3,000. The money will benefit Special Olympics programs

   “It’s for a good cause,” said 23-year-old plunger Thad Rule of Louisiana.

   Organizers Murrel Warner and Helen Crew, who dress wildly each year, were pleased.

   “It’s getting smoother and smoother each year,” Crew said.

   “I think it was great,” Warner added.

   A barge from Wayne B. Smith in Louisiana had to be called in to block the chunks of ice that floated by the plungers’ area at the boat ramp in Riverfront Park.

   Crystal and Chad Alford of Troy participated with another couple.

   “It was a shock,” Crystal Alford said. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It was all in the moment.”

   “It was exhilarating,” said her husband. “You get to taste the nature.”

   Grant already plans to be back for the 2011 plunge.

   “Why?” he asked rhetorically. “It’s fun.”