Vikings GM Rick Spielman took part in the Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser to benefit Special Olympics Minnesota.
WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. — It was his first time, but Vikings general manager Rick Spielman put more than a toe in frigid water to help Special Olympics Minnesota.
Spielman jumped high off the solid sheet of ice toward a square area that had been cleared for splash landings at the 2015 opening Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser.
"It was cold, no, it was a great event," Spielman said. "The people out here are very enthusiastic, a great crowd for such a special event. You get all the anxiety built up in you, like, 'What's it going to be like once you jump in and get out,' but it wasn't that bad at all.
"I just wanted to make sure I got in the water," Spielman added. "You see those guys (rescue workers) out there in the frogman suits, it gets you a little nervous, 'God, I hope I come up out of this,' but it was really fun."
Spielman joined Timberwolves President Chris Wright, Twins President Dave St. Peter, Wild Chief Operating Officer Matt Majka and Fox Sports North Senior Vice President/GM Mike Dimond in the waters of White Bear Lake as an inflatable polar bear towered over the sports executives.
"Special Olympics does a great job of getting us all together. It's such a great cause, and to get all the four major sports teams together, is a pretty unique thing," Spielman said. "I have a younger daughter that competes in a lot of adaptive sports. She's a seventh grader, and to go out there and see these kids compete, I'm pretty fortunate in my position, I see a lot of great athletes, but the heart and competitiveness you see in the Special Olympics kids going out there, it's something very unique. It's one of the things I appreciate the most, to go out and watch my daughter."
Vikings mascot Viktor joined his costumed cohorts Crunch, T.C. Bear and Nordy in support for the cause.
The event kicked off a series of 20 total plunges that are scheduled around Minnesota through March 21 to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics, an organization that extends participation opportunities to more than four million athletes in 170-plus countries.
Special Olympics Minnesota President David Dorn said the plunges are a successful way of garnering support and getting the word out about Special Olympics, which was organized for athletes with intellectual disabilities, and its adaptive and inclusive programs. Dorn said he appreciated the continued support from the Vikings and the sports community in the Twin Cities. He said Spielman did well in his first plunge.
"He was a champ. He's all gung-ho, and he's a solid guy," Dorn said. "He showed no sign of nerves, getting up there for the first time. He went right in. We're really glad he was here."
Dorn has been with Special Olympics Minnesota for eight years, a relationship that began when he was looking to coach floor hockey for his daughter.
"One thing led to another, and it's been the greatest move ever," Dorn said. "It's great professionally and great for our family and I get to meet great people like Rick and all the other execs, and even better, all the athletes and their families."
Click here for more information about Special Olympics Minnesota.