Pictured left to right are current or former Evanston police officers Vinny Santillo, William Teasley, Heidi Bernhardt and Linda Jackson.

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About 170 brave souls took the polar plunge on Saturday afternoon at Northwestern University’s North beach, just behind the aquatics center. High waves, strong winds, and huge mounds of ice along the lake’s edge kept the plungers from wading into the lake. So the plungers jumped into a hole filled with frigid lake water that was formed on the western edge of the ice mounds.

The plunge in Evanston was one of 17 throughout the State to raise money for Special Olympics Illinois, which provides year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics athletes from Evanston compete in about six events each year.

Four current or former Evanston police officers Heidi Bernhardt, Vinny Santillo, Linda Jackson and William Teasley were among those that made the plunge, while officer Grace Carmichael and dispatcher Jessie Ramsay, helped out. 

In addition to supporting the Polar Plunge, Evanston police officers help raise funds for Special Olympics by participating in the Illinois Law Enforcement Torch Run in which more than 3,000 police officers in Illinois run more than 1,500 miles carrying the Flame of Hope through the streets of their hometowns and deliver it to the State Summer Games in Normal, Illinois. Evanston police also sponsor “Cop-on-Top”, a fund-raising event in which police officers perch on the roof of a Dunkin-Donuts in Evanston Plaza.