The Reporter covers Miller, Morgan and Camden County in Central Missouri's Lake of the Ozarks and is published once per week on Wednesdays.


Published February 7, 2024

29th annual Polar Bear Plunge February 24

LAKE OF THE OZARKS – The 29th Annual Lake of the Ozarks Polar Plunge and Polar Bear Strut 5k will take place on Saturday, February 24. 

Men and women from around the area will don Hawaiian-themed costumes and swimwear and take “polar” dips into Lake of the Ozarks.

Their Reason for Freezin’ is the athletes of Special Olympics Missouri (SOMO).

All proceeds from this year’s event will benefit training and competition for the thousands of SOMO athletes across the state including Mid-Missouri.

There is no age limit for the Strut, however, the Polar Plunge is open to anyone 10 years or older.

The event is hosted by the City of Osage Beach and the Osage Beach Police Department.

The Strut and the Plunge will both begin and end at the Lake of the Ozarks State Park / Grand Glaize Beach. 

Day-of registrations are welcome for both events. Strut and Plunge registration begins at 9:00 a.m. The Strut will begin at 10:00 a.m., with the Plunge will starting promptly at 2:00 p.m.

Back for the 10th year is the Pee Wee Plunge. This event is open to any child through 9 years of age and will be held in the parking lot near the registration tent at 1:00 p.m. the day of the Plunge.

There is a $25 registration fee and each “Pee Wee” will receive an official event t-shirt.

If your Pee Wee decides to fundraise – and they raise $100 – they will receive a fun Polar Plunge prize as well.

Anyone wanting to register their child online can go to, click on the LOZ link and choose Pee Wee Plunger for your registration type.

For more info, please contact Crystal Schuster at or 573-469-7839.

“The Polar Plunge is one of my favorite events because it brings people from all walks of life together, for the same great cause – the SOMO athletes,” said Crystal Schuster, SOMO’s Sr. Director of Community Development. “It’s so fun to see the effort that goes into the costumes, and I’m always amazed at how hard everyone works to beat their fundraising totals from the previous year. It’s just an overall fun event, and it’s something that I look forward to every year!”

In 2023, Lake of the Ozarks Polar Plungers raised more than $280,000 for SOMO athletes.

Each participant must raise a minimum of $75 to take the Plunge and can earn incentives by reaching fundraising goals.

This year’s goal is $285,000, and organizers hope to break the million-dollar mark across the state with more than 10 events.

In 2023, SOMO raised nearly $900,000 with 11 Polar Plunges across the state.
SOMO is also offering a Super Plunge option for its most dedicated participants, beginning the day before the Plunge. Super Plungers must raise at least $2,500 for the privilege to Plunge 24 times in 24 hours.

In 2023, the Super Plungers raised a total of $179,900. The Super Plunge will begin on Friday, February 23 at 2:30 p.m.

“The Super Plunge is an added bonus to our Plunge weekend,” Schuster said. “These individuals endure the cold water 24 times, and the money they raise for our athletes is incredible. The time and effort that they put into their fundraising is amazing, and SOMO is so blessed to have them on our team!”

For those not interested in the cold water, SOMO invites everyone out to the Polar Bear Strut 5k. This 5k is another way to show bravery in the freezing cold.

Participants can run, walk, roll or strut through the cold winter air. Whatever works! You can sign up for the Polar Bear Strut on SOMO’s website (link below).

Costumes are highly encouraged. Awards will be given in the following categories: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place honors in these categories: schools, individuals, teams and law enforcement.

No wet suits are allowed and shoes are required.

The easiest and most efficient way to register and fundraise is online. Simply go to and click on the LOZ event to sign up.

Paper registration forms are also available at the SOMO Training for Life Campus (305 Special Olympics Dr. – Jefferson City). Mail or deliver pre-registration forms and the minimum $75 contribution to Special Olympics Missouri Plunge – 305 Special Olympics Dr., Jefferson City, MO 65101.

Plunging participants will receive an official Polar Plunge commemorative shirt, bragging rights for freezing your fur off, and free admission to the Pre-Plunge Chili Cook-off / Silent Auction.

The Pre-Plunge Party admission for the general public is $5 per person. Participants can also receive incentives for reaching fundraising goals: $250 – Towel, $500 –Sling Backpack, $1,000 – Stanley Cup & Towel, and $2,000 – All of the above PLUS Gloves.

SOMO has one Plunge Ambassador helping with this event. That Plunge Ambassador for this year’s Plunge is Bobby Bates. Bobby is a SOMO athlete and has been working for months to help spread awareness of the Plunge.

“I enjoy being a part of Special Olympics Missouri, and I think the Lake of the Ozarks Plunge is one of the best ways to support our year-round program,” Bates said.

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