For the 25th year in a row, the lakes area tradition of the Polar Fest Plunge continued on Saturday, Feb. 13 — but with a little twist, in the form of actor Josh Duhamel.
In the weeks leading up to Polar Fest 2021, the staff of Detroit Lakes' Boys & Girls Club thought long and hard on how to creatively celebrate this annual fundraiser in the midst of a pandemic — not to mention, the extended stretch of subzero temperatures that took hold of the region this past week.
Typically, the PFP causes hundreds of families to gather around an icy hole on Little Detroit Lake in mid-February and cheer on dozens of brave souls as they jump into the frozen waters. This year, however, a global pandemic known as COVID-19 made such a large group gathering impossible — so a different way to raise funds was found: Celebrity "Proxy Plunger" Duhamel. The Minot, N.D., native agreed to take the leap at an undisclosed area lake in support of local youth.
On Monday, Feb. 8, Duhamel shared this video on the club's Facebook page, relating his enthusiasm for what he was about to do.
A little later in the week, he and Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Patrick Petermann spoke to local public access channel TV-3 about his reasons for agreeing to participate in the Plunge.
His leap into the icy water was recorded for posterity and released to the public this afternoon, on the Club's social media pages and website, bgcdl.org. In support of his feat of derring-do, past plungers and friends of the Club were encouraged to “Plunge by Proxy” and raise pledges or post their “chilly” pictures on the Club’s Facebook page.
In return, the most prolific fundraisers were offered a chance to win incentives such as VISA Gift Cards, Club swag, and Josh Duhamel autographed items.
"He was an amazingly good sport," Petermann said of Duhamel, adding that the actor not only shared videos of his experiences leading up to the big leap with his fans on social media, but also autographed several items for the club to use in its fundraising efforts.
By the time the deadline for turning in pledges was reached at midnight on Friday, Feb. 12, the club had raised more than $17,000 from over two dozen "Proxy Plungers," said Alyssa Hoskins, the club's marketing and communications coordinator.
"It's more than I was hoping for," she said of the response to the club's call for participants.
Duhamel gladly stepped up to the challenge of being the “Proxy Plunger," as you can see in the video below. In fact, according to Petermann, he even did the Plunge a second time, just for fun. He added that the outdoor temperature was actually -13 degrees — yes, that number did have a minus in front of it! — when Duhamel did the jump.
Though the deadline for earning incentives as "Proxy Plungers" has now passed, Petermann said that anyone who still wants to donate funds in support of Josh Duhamel’s Polar Fest Plunge and the mission of Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes is encouraged to do so, by going to bgcdl.org and clicking on the "Donate" button.
The Polar Fest Plunge raises essential funds to support the hundreds of local youth who benefit from the programming and services offered at Boys & Girls Club of Detroit Lakes.