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Plunging Like Penguins for Special Olympics

It was a balmy 34 degrees Sunday morning as hundreds, many in costume, lined up along the shores of Dunning Lake at

The heartiest souls were about to turn themselves into , plunging into the lake's icy waters in support of Special Olympics Connecticut.

David Sebold of Simsbury was decked out in his polar bear hat, waiting to register with his daughter Regan and her friends Aly Pappa and Kate Ziko. They were a group of veteran plungers, who thought the weather was just fine. "We've been here a couple of years when it's been 'oh my Lord' cold," Sebold said.

James Whaley of the Forman School in Litchfield came dressed as a gorilla, and wore that costume right into the water. There were 14 plungers on the Forman team who had raised a total of $1,500 for Special Olympics, double their goal of $750.

The Farmington Valley MudHogs brought a team of 22 plungers, many of them elementary and middle school students. It's the team's third time participating, and they raised more than $2,000 this year.

Team captain Tony Sposato was bare-chested as he awaited the start of the event, but said he would be stripping down even more before entering the water. "I said that whoever donated the most could pick what I wore," said Sposato, who later dashed into the lake in a multi-colored Speedo.

Brenda Day and her son Shane Hurley of Farmington were "Superheroes for a Cause." This was their first time at the Penguin Plunge, and Day, a veteran of many charity bike rides, thought it would be a great opportunity to participate with her second grader. "I'm freezing," confessed Day, as she waited in her Wonder Woman costume.

anchor Brad Drazen, a West Hartford resident, kicked off the plunge just before 10 a.m. According to the Special Olympics Connecticut website, Drazen raised $1,640.

Others followed, team by team, with shouts of "Oh my God" and "Yahoo" as the penguins plunged into the water.

The online fundraising tally shows that the event surpassed its $30,000 goal, raising $34,190.32 with pledges still being collected.

Patricia Reville January 30, 2012 at 01:04 PM
Good work one and all! Especially Chloe Rose and team Winding Trails.
Makenzie Bernetich January 30, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Hey! I was in this! I am an Avon Swimmer! :) This was my tenth year plunging!
Jessie Sawyer (Editor) January 30, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Nice, Makenzie! If you have any other photos of the event, feel free to upload them to the gallery. Jessie Sawyer Editor, Avon Patch

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