Taking the plunge for charity 2009: 11 Past

Taking the plunge for charity

For 11 of the past 13 years, Karen Klatt and her husband, Tony, have joined those who dive, cannonball and belly-flop their way into

Hartwell Lake&8217s frigid winter waters each February during the Polar Bear Plunge. The year the charitable event is set to take place beginning at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 28 at the Hartwell Marina near Hartwell, Ga. &8220I&8217ve taken the plunge nearly every year, and now my grandkids are plunging in with me,&8221 said Karen Klatt, an advertising executive from Anderson who started the event 13 years ago with her husband, who is a chiropractor. According to executive director Blondie Willingham, the Polar Bear Plunge has raised more than $100,000 for the shelter since its inception in 1995. The Hartwell-based shelter now serves more than 200 women and their families, eight of whom live at the shelter full time, Willingham said. But for Klatt, who estimates more than 1,000 people have made the plunge in the past 13 years, the real fun is a two-part process: Enjoying the costumes people wear, and seeing their faces when they come up out of the chilly water for air. &8220The most fun is seeing the costumes and the smiling people. We&8217ve had grown men show up in diapers dressed like babies,&8221 Klatt said. &8220We&8217ve had women dress up as Daisy Duke, Hillary Clinton, and even one creative girl who came dressed as a bubble gum machine. But, regardless of how they&8217re dressed, when they pop up out of that water, their faces all look the same &8212 shocked.&8221 &8220The youngest plunger we&8217ve had was 3 years old. He dove in from his grandfather&8217s shoulders. The oldest one was in his 70s,&8221 she said.

&8220It is a fun way to support a very worth cause. Jumping into a little bit of cold water is a small price to pay for raising awareness and support of battered families,&8221 Klatt said.

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