A participant dives in the pool and splashes volunteers from Worth School District 127 who took part in the eighth annual Polar Plunge Saturday in the parking lot of the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991. (Photos by Joe Boyle)

A participant dives in the pool and splashes volunteers from Worth School District 127 who took part in the eighth annual Polar Plunge Saturday in the parking lot of the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991. (Photos by Joe Boyle)

Volunteers raise $18,000 at Worth FOP Polar Plunge

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Members of the Worth Police Department and School District 127 gather after diving in the pool for the eighth annual FOP Polar Plunge Saturday in the parking lot of the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991. 

By Joe Boyle

The temperatures were hovering near 50 degrees, but Worth Mayor Mary Werner said it was still going to be a challenge.

“They took the temperature of the water and it was 46 degrees. That is still cold,” the mayor said.

The eighth annual Worth Fraternal Order of Police Polar Plunge was held Saturday in the parking lot of Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991.

The only major change in the annual event was that it took place in a different venue. The FOP Polar Plunge had previously been held at Altman Park.

“Last year, we knew that a patio was going to be built at the post and we knew that there would be more room,” Werner said. “There are more washrooms they have access to and they can go inside and get warm.”

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Trustee Brad Urban cooks hot dogs and hamburgers for visitors and participants at the annual Worth FOP Polar Plunge Saturday outside the Marrs-Meyer American Legion Post 991. 

Inside the post was a bounce house for kids to play on. A DJ was on hand to play contemporary songs. Music was also being played on the patio.

The mayor added that downstairs at the post the temperature was set near 80 degrees to allow the participants to change and later get dressed in a draped locker space set aside for males and females.

The warmer temperatures encouraged more participants. Along with members of the police department taking the plunge during the morning session in the pool set up outside the post, they were joined by members of Worth School District 127.

Trustee Brad Urban, along with some other volunteers, served hot dogs and hamburgers throughout the event.

“He also served breakfast burritos early in the morning until they ran out,” Werner said. “Then he started making the hamburgers and hot dogs the rest of the day.”

Taking part in the morning plunge were Gerry Beagles, executive director of Garden Center Services, which provides assistance for youngsters and adults with special needs.

Beagles was joined by 11 representatives of Garden Center, many of whom take part in athletic activities like bowling and basketball. Money donated for the charitable event goes for Illinois Special Olympics.

Construction is scheduled to begin this year at the corner of Crandall Avenue and Depot Street, next door to the post, for the Garden Center Services apartment complex for residents of special needs who are self-sufficient.

Steve Werner, finance officer for the post, may have set a record of sorts by participating in each plunge. The second time he was joined by Urban and more members of School District 127.

Investigator Joel Frias, who was honored as the “Officer of the Year” during a village board meeting last month, said that the fundraiser will raise about $18,000 this year. Frias said that doubles the previous high of $9,500 in 2021.

“We had a lot of people helping from District 127 and the post,” Frias said. “It is truly remarkable the support we have received for Special Olympics. We also get the support from the mayor and Brad Urban. They lead us from the top.”

Frias also mentioned that Sgt. Michael Cozzi, who has served as the longtime school resource officer for School District 127, is also a major factor in providing support for the FOP Polar Plunge.

“We could go to Manteno or somewhere else south but we want to do it right here,” Frias said about the event. “This is community oriented.”

Village Clerk Bonnie Price said that the day is for a good cause and everyone has a good time. She was watching her granddaughter, Maeve Price, who will turn 3 years old in May.

Maeve, from Chicago’s Mount Greenwood neighborhood, was playing in the bounce house inside the post and later came out to watch the plungers.

Urban did admit that this was most likely the warmest Polar Plunge. However, he had more to say about that after he took his plunge.

“It’s still cold,” Urban said after leaving the pool and grabbing a towel.

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