Posted by Carrie Wintle on Feb 25, 2019 under

This week was one of those “bucket list” kind of weeks. On Tuesday, I drove to Brookings to visit Dakota Prairie Elementary. It was particularly special because I was visiting Kati Round’s classroom. I went to high school with Kati and cheered with her on the competitive team and basketball sideline team. Kati, Rachel, and I were somewhat of the three stooges and constantly referred to ourselves as the “blonde, redhead, and brunette.” My friendship with Kati is something I cherish, and although it has changed over the years, every time I see her, it takes us back to our days cheering on the sidelines.

When I walked in her classroom, I immediately spotted a little girl I recognized. Last year I did a project for Children’s Miracle Network around Christmas. I asked Miracle Children to submit holiday artwork, which I then made into Christmas cards – The Holiday Card Collection for CMN. Ellie was one of the little girls that submitted a drawing, and I was particularly fond of it because she drew her kitty in a Christmas scene. I have a special place in my heart for fellow cat lovers.

The week ended with a splash, quite literally. Every year, Vermillion hosts a Polar Plunge for Special Olympics. It is a fundraising event where people raise money for Special Olympics and then jump into freezing cold water, hence “Polar Plunge.” I have always thought participating in the Polar Plunge some year would be cool, one of those bucket list items in my life. But every year passed, and I never signed up. Well, this year, I threw caution to the wind and registered. I even convinced Anna, Miss USD, to do it with me. In my mind, jumping into frigid temperature water would be better with moral support. 

Saturday rolled around, and I was anxious all day. It was a cold day, like many of the others we’ve had recently in SD. Not to mention it was snowing. I thought I was clever when I referred to the snow as confetti. In a way, it was. The Polar Plunge was a celebration for raising $18,500 for Special Olympics SD, and the snow came around at the perfect time to serve as a little confetti for the party.

One after another, people plunged into the water. It was cold. There are no “ifs, ands, or buts” about it. Anna and I inched closer and closer to the edge of the water. I was thinking that the water temperature was warmer than the air temperature, so in theory it should feel warmer (anything to make myself feel better, right?). Well, the minute I hit the water, panic set in. It was freezing, and I am positive I couldn’t breathe. The look on my face said it all.

It took a while to defrost; however, I am so grateful to have been a part of the Vermillion Polar Plunge that raised $18,500 for Special Olympics SD. Miss South Dakota continually pushes me beyond my comfort zone to some incredible opportunities. This one was nothing short of fantastic.