2nd annual polar plunge more than doubles in support of breast cancer research

PTTP 2014

Organizers with the 2nd annual “Plunging for Pink” polar plunge address the sellout crowd Saturday night during an on-ice program at the Austin Bruins’ 4th annual “Paint the Rink Pink” game. This year’s plunge drew more than 215 plungers and raised about $37,740 to date for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research as part of Austin’s “Paint the Town Pink” festival. Pictured (left to right) are Brian Tollefson, Geri Olson and Kyle Tollefson of Tolly’s Timeout (the top fundraising team and major sponsor) along with “Plunging” organizers Joe Muzik, Cody Anderson, Toren Bires and Brieg Anderson, all of Hormel Foods Corp. and the Vision 2020 Waterways Committee.

Organizers with the “Plunging for Pink” polar plunge more than met their goal this year to double the number of plungers and overall money raised for The Hormel Institute’s breast cancer research.

“Plunging for Pink” – which had its 2nd annual plunge Feb. 15 at Austin’s East Side Lake as part of the 4th annual “Paint the Town Pink” festival – drew more than 215 plungers and, to date, has raised about $37,740 for The Hormel Institute’s cutting-edge breast cancer research.

In 2013, the inaugural “Plunging for Pink” drew about 100 plungers and raised $16,439 for the Institute’s research, making it the second-biggest fundraiser for “Paint the Town Pink.” Plunge organizers – volunteers from the Vision 2020 Waterways Committee – sought to double those numbers for the second plunge.

“All of us truly are excited with how the plunge picked up steam this year,” said Joe Muzik, lead organizer for the event. “There was an outpouring of support from local businesses that chose to not only sponsor the event but also create fun and festive teams that were as big as 24 plungers in one group.”

“Plunging for Pink” organizers announced their total Saturday night during the on-ice program by The Hormel Institute and “Paint the Town Pink” steering committee at the Austin Bruins’ 4th annual “Paint the Rink Pink”

Vision 2020 Waterways volunteer Cody Anderson once again served as an entertaining emcee for the plunge, Muzik said, and organizers were pleased with plunge being more organized overall, with online registration available and an easier check-in process at the plunge.

Participants enjoyed the addition of the Tolly’s Timeout beverage tent at the plunge, Muzik added. Tolly’s was this year’s top fundraising team at $6,500 followed by Smitty’s Tavern with $5,130.

The Hormel Institute’s Tim Ruzek had been the top individual fundraiser with $1,400 but, after several pledged donations came in, was topped by Hormel Foods Corp.’s Scott Nemec, who raised $1,435. Pacelli Catholic Schools won the event’s award for most unique team uniform.

This year’s post-plunge meal and party also was a success, Muzik said, featuring a concert by the local Bissen family band at the Holiday Inn Convention & Conference Center, which donated the event space and prepared the food at no charge.

The Hormel Institute’s faculty and staff are highly grateful for the significant amount of research funding raised and overwhelming showing of support by everyone with the plunge, Executive Director Dr. Zigang Dong said.

“This outstanding level of support indeed will help our researchers make further progress in finding ways to prevent and control breast cancer as well as other types of cancer,” Dong said.

Vision 2020 is proud to be part of “Paint the Town Pink” and, in particular, the polar plunge event, said Laura Helle, Director of Vision Creation for Vision 2020.

“We work with volunteers who give their time and talents to make the community better all year round,” Helle said. “It’s only natural that our Vision 2020 Waterways Committee would pitch in to support The Hormel Institute and raise funds for cancer research. Austin is proud of the incredible research happening right here in our small community and ‘Plunging for Pink’ — as well as many other events — reflect that.”

Plunge organizers thanked Tolly’s Time Out and Holiday Inn as well as Hormel Foods and Hy-Vee Food Store for donating food and the City of Austin for services provided by the Parks & Recreation, Fire and Police departments.

Donations from the “pink” fundraising in 2011 and 2012 helped support the acquisition of cutting-edge technology for The Hormel Institute’s researchers to use in accelerating discoveries for breast cancer research. Funds from the 2013 PTTP were distributed last year in the form of seven grants to seven scientists at The Hormel Institute for breast cancer research. Known as “seed grants,” these funds are helping Institute researchers conduct work that will enable them to better seek significantly larger grants for breast cancer research.