One of the high points in Laura Lucas’ year comes in early summer, when she can participate in the annual summer games hosted in Orono by Special Olympics Maine.

Lucas, a 52-year-old Winthrop woman, has won medals and ribbons while competing in the 100-meter dash, the standing long jump and the softball throw. She also enjoys catching up with old friends and going to the dance held each year at the Special Olympics, often featuring a performance by the disco tribute band Motor Booty Affair.

But before Lucas can have that fun this year, she’s taken it upon herself to give back to her fellow Special Olympians in an unlikely way: by pretending it’s already summer and jumping into the wintry water of Maranacook Lake.

For the second year in a row, Lucas has been raising money for the Ice Out Plunge, an annual event that’s held at the Winthrop Town Beach and that supports Special Olympics Maine.

When the polar plunge is held at noon Saturday, it will be Lucas’ second year of participating.

“It was cold,” Lucas said of last year’s plunge.


It’s the fifth the year the plunge will be held, and it also will coincide with St. Patrick’s Day. Because of that timing, the event’s organizer, Charle Clark, is urging participants to wear their finest greenery.

Clark works as an administrative assistant for the Winthrop Police Department. She’s organizing the plunge as part of a series of fundraisers that are hosted each year by police organizations, called the Maine Law Enforcement Torch Run.

Later this week, Clark said, members of the Maine Warden Service will be using a chain saw, an augur and other tools to cut a large triangle out of the ice in Maranacook Lake.

On Saturday, organizers will make a path out onto the ice with wooden pallets. After marching to the jump point, participants will leap into the shockingly brisk depths.

Last year, about 70 people participated in the jump and raised about $28,000 — which, Clark noted, was less than the year before.

Clark herself said she’s worried she might have to jump this year, as her son-in-law, who was planning to, is sick this week.


Explaining her reservations, she said: “I don’t do cold.”

Registration for the plunge will happen at the Alfred W. Maxwell Jr. Post 40 American Legion and Auxiliary, at 117 Bowdoin St., beginning around 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

The actual event begins at noon. Also a party will be held after the plunge in the American Legion post.

Besides offering events in Maine throughout the year, Special Olympics Maine also will send 41 athletes and coaches to Seattle in June to compete in the Special Olympics USA games.

Lucas, who was on the top fundraising team for last year’s Ice Out Plunge, grew up with developmental disabilities after having a low birth weight, according to her stepmother, Rebecca Lucas.

For people with disabilities, the benefit of the Special Olympics are clear.


“It gives all these clients a real feeling of belonging,” Rebecca Lucas said. “I think that’s the important thing.”

More information about the plunge is available at

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker

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