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Frigid dip ‘worth it’ for Special Olympics

Members MundelePolice department team The Village People (from left) Lori Smith Libertyville Mike Flynn MundeleRyan Faidley Palatine Rick Witt MundeleMary

Members of the Mundelein Police department team The Village People (from left) Lori Smith of Libertyville, Mike Flynn of Mundelein, Ryan Faidley of Palatine, Rick Witt of Mundelein, Mary Flynn of Mundelein, Jenny Grunfield of Long Grove and Trisha Smith of Libertyville being watches by Fox Lake Fire Department firefighter Casey Kantenwein (behind them) enjoy the near freezing water of Fox Lake during the Fox Lake Polar Plunge at Lakefront Park in Fox Lake.

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Updated: March 27, 2013 6:01AM

FOX LAKE — Lake Front Park wasn’t as warm as a YMCA swimming pool, but the Village People plunged into the lake despite the snow on the ground.

A group of seven village of Mundelein employees dressed up as the disco group for the Fox Lake Polar Plunge event, which was a fund-raiser for Special Olympics.

The 400 people who registered were encouraged to wear costumes for their mid-winter dip in the lake.

“I thought up the costumes. I thought of the Village People because we all work for the village,” said team leader Lori Smith, who does IT work for Mundelein. She pulled together a biker costume for herself. Her daughter, Trisha Smith, dressed as a cowgirl.

The team sang the YMCA song to a cheering crowd during the costume contest. They didn’t win, but they drew cheers when the public saw their costumes. A DJ also played “YMCA” as the team plunged into the lake.

Mike Flynn, Mundelein’s assistant administrator, and his wife Mary went to an Army surplus store to portray the soldier for the Village People team. Mike also used his father’s actual Army-issued helmet. His father, the late Col. Allan Flynn, served in the Army from 1950 to 1985. He served in post-World War II Germany and went to Vietnam twice.

Flynn wore the helmet as he charged into the lake.

“It is a good-luck charm. It kept me warm,” Flynn said.

Jenny Grumfeld, who does planning for the village, dressed as the Native American.

Mundelein Police Officer Rick Witt dressed as a construction worker and Ryan Faidley, a dispatcher, dressed up as a cop.

“A real cop can’t dress up as a cop,” said Smith.

Witt said he had worked in construction before he started working as a police officer about seven years ago. This was his sixth year doing the plunge.

“I believe in the cause. Special Olympics is amazing. You lose your breath as you hit the cold water. It’s painful but worth it,” said Witt.

More than $2,800 was raised with all proceeds supporting Special Olympics programs, according to Susan Foege, Special Olympics Illinois Northeastern Area 13 supervisor.

Last year, the event brought in about $63,000. This year raised more than $75,000, she said.

“The community support we have from Fox Lake is amazing,” said Foege

Several area businesses donated prizes and food, she added.

“The community really embraces the event. (The goal) is to have fun and raise as much as possible,” Foege said.

The Fox Lake plunge is one of 20 Polar Plunge events being held across the state from Feb. 23 through March 17. The other Polar Plunge in Lake County is March 2 in Lake Bluff.

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