Chicago Polar Plunge Breaks Fundraising Record in 2017 Event

The 2017 Polar Plunge broke a fundraising record in the city over the weekend, raising more than $1.53 million for the Special Olympics Chicago. 

Organizers said the total number of funds raised is expected to climb even higher as donations are accepted through the end of March.

This marks the fourth consecutive year the event broke a fundraising record. 

Officials said 5,500 plungers, including a number of celebrities, dove into 40-degree Lake Michigan waters Sunday at North Avenue Beach. 

Photos: Chicago Polar Plunge Makes a Splash

Among the celebrities was actor Dax Shepard, who served as this year’s VIP, or "very important plunger." He was joined by actors from hit NBC shows "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago PD."

"Excited is not the word I would use to describe it, but I am willing - I think willing’s the word," Shepard quipped before diving into the frigid water.

"You know, it raises a ton of money – I think they’ve raised a million and a half dollars already for Special Olympics – so it’s great to be a part of anything that raises that kind of money for a great cause," he added. 

He later tweeted that he "survived," adding that it "was humbling to meet the awesome athletes and be a part of something so good." [[415427483, C]]

Those jumping into the water were also greeted by another familiar face back on land. Bears legend Brian Urlacher spent the morning cooking and serving free bratwursts to participants after they plunged. [[415431253, C]]

Last year’s event raised $1.5 million to support athletes in a variety of ways, including much-needed transportation to get to their programs and competitions. 

To learn more about Special Olympics Chicago or donate to the event, visit

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