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Ronan’s top cop takes chilly plunge for worthy cause

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With temperatures hovering around zero degrees on Saturday morning, Ronan Police Chief Ken Weaver took a chilly dip in the icy waters of Spring Creek in the Ronan park for a good cause.

Weaver signed up to help raise funds for the annual Special Olympics with the Flathead Rez Polar Plunge, along with other people doing cold-water challenges, but the event was canceled due to unsafe frigid weather and blizzard conditions. Weaver wanted to show support for the program and the people who donated money to support his plunge, so he went ahead and took a dip in the creek. 

Weaver stood near the edge of the creek and took off his police jacket. He had on a long sleeve shirt, pants and shoes. It was suggested that he also keep on his stocking hat. He handed over his glasses. “Let’s do this,” he said. He walked into the icy-cold water, put his hands in the air and plunged down. After getting completely wet, he quickly walked out of the water and was wrapped in blankets. Ronan police officers and a Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputy were there to show support and help pull Weaver out of the creek if needed. 

On Friday, participants were notified that the event would be canceled. “We are beyond disappointed to announce the cancellation of this event,” said April Charlo, event organizer. She said the event disclaimer noted that the event could be canceled due to weather, and dangerous weather conditions forced her to make the call.

Weaver recalled the afternoon he decided to take on the challenge. He said April knocked on the door at the police station in Ronan and made a simple statement: “She said Polson City Police Chief Wade Nash had called out all the other chiefs of police to do the Polar Plunge.”

Without hesitation, Weaver jumped in and joined local law enforcement chiefs, which included Polson Police Chief Wade Nash, St. Ignatius Police Chief Matt Connelly and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ Chief Game Warden Dan McClure. 

The chiefs went to work to see who could raise the most revenue in the Special Olympics fund-raising challenge. After final contributions were tabulated on Friday evening, Weaver was at $1,567. Connelly had $367, Nash had $222 and McClure with $133.

Weaver said he is proud of the money he and his counterparts raised to benefit the Mission Valley Special Olympics. It is a cause that is near and dear to law enforcement agencies around the state. “It is pretty special to me,” said Weaver. “I have a developmentally-disabled son myself. The program is a good cause, and I support it.”

Weaver explained why he took the plunge after the event was canceled. He said he felt a responsibility to all the people who donated. “I figured since I raised the most money in Lake County, if I did not do the plunge, I would be letting down the Special Olympic athletes as well as the people who donated to the polar plunge,” said Weaver as he made his way to the snowy creek bank before his plunge. He was urged on by a hand full of shivering supporters. 

“By doing this Chief Weaver made my day,” Charlo said. “It’s Special Olympic supporters like Weaver who (help) give 

these kids opportunities that many may not have had.” 

While the organization hosts other fundraisers throughout the year, the Flathead Rez Polar Plunge was the largest, so far. The Polar Plunge was started this year to fill in a funding gap left when a grant ended in December.

Monies raised during the plunge will go to support athletes with intellectual and developmental disabilities who live on the reservation and in Lake County. The funding will help the organization purchase uniforms, training equipment, and travel expenses as the athletes travel to and from competitions all year.

The Polar Plunge has raised $8,447 of the $10,000 goal. “We are overwhelmed with all the communities supporting the first annual Flathead Rez Polar Plunge,” Charlo said. “We appreciate everyone who volunteered, raised money and helped with making this historic Special Olympics fundraising adventure so successful.”

To learn more information about upcoming events or to make a contribution in support of a participating individual or team, visit www.somt.org.

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