More than 50 members of the Audubon FFA chapter plunged into Winther’s Pond on a farm east of Audubon on Wednesday to raise money for a five-month-old Missouri boy fighting cancer.
More than 50 members of the Audubon FFA chapter plunged into Winther’s Pond on a farm east of Audubon on Wednesday to raise money for a five-month-old Missouri boy fighting cancer.
April 16, 2014



The sun was setting, and the temperature falling with it, hovering in the 40-degree range as more than 10 members of the Audubon Police Department jumped into a makeshift pool of cold water, filled in the department parking lot by one of its water trucks.

But the firemen didn't complain - they were freezin' for a reason.

The department was one of the first in town to participate in the "Plunge for Landon," the latest take on a polar plunge fundraiser that has swept the nation.

Son of Alyssa and Brandon Shaw of Tarkio, Mo., 5-month-old Landon is battling a rare cancer that first attacked his liver before moving to his brain, the family explains on the "Plunge for Landon!" Facebook page.

What started as a hometown effort - plunge into cold water, post the video online, challenge neighbors, and donate money for each who follows suit within 24 hours - has now stretched across the U.S. and pushed beyond its borders.

The Facebook page, started on March 30, has already garnered more than 40,000 followers, and anApril 4 post by Lydia Chapin Hurst, another Tarkio resident, counts plunges in all but two U.S. states as well as Afghanistan, Canada, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Vietnam and Australia.

Even politicians are getting in on the action - on April 2, Missouri Rep. Sam Graves plunged into the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.

The Audubon Fire Department was challenged by the Atlantic Fire Department, said assistant chief Tyler Thygesen.

"We can't let another department challenge us and not do it," he said with a laugh. "It's become quite a deal in the Midwest."

The Audubon firemen challenged the Exira and Templeton fire departments, promising $10 for each individual to rise to the challenge.

A few days later, the Audubon County Sheriff's Department Plunged for Landon, accepting challenges from both the Cass County Sheriff's Office and the Exira Fire Department.

Several officers and at least one jailer ran into Littlefield Lake last Wednesday, said Sheriff Todd Johnson. The department's canine officer was also present, though he did not take the plunge, Johnson added.

His office challenged the Carroll County Sheriff's Office via a Facebook tag.

"We're helping it get further north," he said, citing media reports that the cold-water efforts have already raised more than $30,000.

About 20 miles away, and nearly simultaneously, more than 50 student members of the Audubon FFA jumped into Winther's Pond on a farm east of town. The Audubon FFA was responding to a challenge from the Harlan FFA chapter, said adviser Brittany Elmquist.

The FFA members challenged the middle and high school staff - who completed a plunge in Littlefield Lake on Friday - as well as Two-Palms Grilling.

Elmquist said the students also benefited from their participation.

"Not only were they able to donate to a great cause, but a lot recognized that it raised awareness for cancer and cancer research," she said. "They loved this experience."