Up North: From Brazil to Duluth, Jana Gunderson Takes First Polar Plunge

Alicia Tipcke
Updated: February 19, 2020 11:12 PM

After moving almost 5,000 miles way from home, the adventures continued for Jana Gunderson.


"I am from Brazil and they told me it would be summer here and I guess it's not," said Gunderson.

She was one of around 700 plungers leaping into Superior Bay Saturday in the 19th annual Polar Plunge. 

"My friends said that I would not jump in it. That I would not be able to do it because of where I come from. I said oh well, I will," explained Gunderson.

Some people dressed in unique costumes such as unicorn pajamas, super heroes outfits and chickens suits to brave the 30 degree day and around freezing water temperature.

"It was cold," said Jalice, a participant in the event. She took the Polar Plunge for the first time with her friend Katie and coworkers. "It was awesome. It was fun. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," added Katie.

The jump, ended up being a sort of a right of passage for Gabriel Saturnino. "I've lived here in Duluth for about a year now and they kind of described it as a Midwestern baptism so I guess I'm a fully initiated Midwesterner now," said Saturnino.

The chilly challenge was all for a good cause.

"It's a fundraiser for Special Olympics where people pledge $75 or more and they get to jump into the harbor here this year, raise money have a good time for Special Olympics," explained Ryan Temple, a member of the Duluth Police Department.

This year, over $145,000 was raised by corporations, school groups, law enforcement and individuals for Special Olympics Minnesota. 

"We've got all ages of athletes that are going to be here today. Just to see the smile on their face when they're interacting with us, jumping in [and] raising money for a good cause, it's what law enforcement is about," said Temple.

There was warming tent and pizza to go around for those thawing out from the frozen jump off Park Point. 

"It's like you jump in you get out and it's over. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be," said Jalice.

When asked if he would do it again Saturnino responded, "oh absolutely, I'm definitely doing it again". 

Gunderson agreed, saying she would also take the plunge again and offered some advice. "If you guys have never done it, a girl from Brazil did it, you can do it, you should do it too," she added.


Alicia Tipcke

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