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Evergreen Lake Plunge Big Brrr! to raise funds for Drive Smart and EPRD special needs

By Vicky Gits

Here’s a fun way to say Happy New Year:

Put on a bathing suit and dive into a frozen lake in front of a cheering crowd of fully dressed onlookers.

That way, the rest of the year — or at least the winter — should feel like a trip to the beach.

If you can’t do that, consider pledging some money for someone such as Kristina Halstead to do it. Halstead is planning to dive for the second year in a row.

The Evergreen Lake Plunge Big Brrr! benefits two worthy causes, Drive Smart Evergreen-Conifer and the special needs program of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District. Last year the event raised about $6,000, and this year the goal is $10,000.

The plunge starts at noon on New Year’s Day.

Kristina Halstead, 16, is an Evergreen High School student and special needs participant who has cerebral palsy. She is volunteering to jump, even though she did it last year and knows exactly what she is getting into. The sponsor deadline is Dec. 18.

Last year Halstead raised nearly $3,000 in pledges for taking the swim.

“She likes raising money for the program,” said Maren Schreiber, coordinator of the special needs program. Halstead is an enthusiastic sportswoman who likes to ski, go bowling and ride horses.

Guest emcees this year will be Channel 4 anchor Alan Gionet, who went underwater last year, and Jeffco Sheriff Ted Mink.

The fee to participate is $25 in advance or $35 the day of the event.

The special needs program is the only one of its kind in the Evergreen-Conifer mountain area and serves 60 kids from all over, including Georgetown, Idaho Springs, Bailey, Lakewood, Genesee and Morrison.

The money for the special needs program comes largely from taxpayers of the Evergreen rec district and from participant fees. Non-residents can participate at a higher rate. The program is known for its ambitious activity schedule, which includes five days of adaptive skiing at the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, river rafting, water-skiing, ropes courses, horseback riding, weekly bowling dates, monthly dances and winter and summer camps.

In 2010, Schreiber has plans to add Special Olympics gymnastics training classes at the Wulf Rec Center under the direction of gymnastics teacher Shana Peterson. Two more days of skiing at Keystone are also on the agenda.

Individuals can make pledges by visiting www.evergreenlakeplunge.com.