Lake Carolina Polar Plunge raises $81,000 for children’s charities

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Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 4:43 PM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Saturday, the Children’s Charities of the Midlands hosted their 10th Lake Carolina Polar Plunge.

The event started back in 2012 as a joke, but it’s grown into an annual fundraising event for various charities benefiting kids.

The Chippenwhales fundraising team spearheaded by Ernie ‘Big Ern’ Becker and Gary Matthews began raising money in 2013. The grand total was $1,000.

Over the past ten years, they’ve raised more than $270,000. More than half was raised just in the past three years.

“Here we are ten years later having some significant impact,” said Gary. “These nonprofits stretch a dollar a long way. So, this is a huge deal for them.”

This year alone, the plunge raised $81,000. Between 100 and 150 people jumped into chilly Lake Carolina to show their support.

“We want this to be the premiere children’s charity of the Midlands,” said Ernie. “Everything we do is volunteer. 100% of the proceeds go back into the charities, so this is the love that we do in our community.”

The support wasn’t just for children’s charities, though, as participants and spectators brought flowers to toss in the lake in honor of Theron Wallace, the missing kayaker who was found dead just a few days after Christmas.

Gary and Ernie plan to keep the tradition going as long as they can jump into the lake. After that, they say they’ll pass the event down to future generations.

To learn more about Children’s Charities of the Midlands, visit their website Children’s Charities of the Midlands (

To donate, visit Fundraiser by Gary Matthews : CW 2021 (

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