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Akeley takes the plunge for Audrey's Purple Dream

A galant plunger, Lori Kohne of Akeley, headed into the frigid waters not once, but twice, soliciting cheers and support from her Audrey's Purple Dream audience on 11th Crow Wing Saturday. Her fans voted her "crowd favorite." (Photos by Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)1 / 2
Rita Holland of Park Rapids took the big dip, raising the most funds among the Polar Plungers - $1,600. She signed up for the event last year but it was canceled when the mercury dipped into double digit below zero temps. "This is something not fit for man nor beast," she said of the lunacy. "But it's for a wonderful cause."2 / 2

Akeley's Answer to Cancer - Audrey's Purple Dream - generated a notable turnout on the ice Saturday, fishing lines and bodies dropping into the lake to raise a grand total of $9,000 for the cause.

Proceeds from the event are disbursed to area residents battling cancer, "so they can live out a dream."

Approximately 180 fisherfolk competed in the event with Adam Nelson of Akeley claiming the $1,000 prize for the third largest fish caught.

Rick Kruse of Akeley won the grand prize - a 32" TV and Wii system. Bobby Tufts of Akeley won the gun raffle and Tom Avery of Akeley claimed the $100 raffle vest.

Eight braved the chilly waters in the Polar Plunge, raising $4,266.

Six-year-old Garrett Jones jumped in with mom, Sam Jones. And Derek Dunham, 7, (aka Spiderman) also rose - or sunk - to the occasion.

Lori Kohne proved to be the crowd favorite, rallying her fans before leaping in.

"That felt so good, I'm doing it again," she told a shivering audience as she dropped for a second dowsing.

Kohne was jumping in for one of the event's founders, Melissa "Nib" Niblick, who's now battling cancer. But she arrived for the event to cheer on the leaping lunatics.

Rita Holland of Park Rapids decided last year to participate, but below zero temperatures precluded her debut. This year, she headed in for the big chill.

"Was I looking forward to it? No. But it's a wonderful cause," she said.

"It's all about giving people what they need in times of need," Polar Plunge coordinator Lydia Krueckeberg said of the initiative.

The main purpose is to give people an opportunity to do something they want to do, Shannah Pidde Geimer explained of the event, dedicated to her mother, lifelong Akeley resident Audrey Pidde.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, she shared a wish to travel to Alaska.

Family and friends rallied to raise funds for her, hosting the original Audrey's Purple Dream in February 2005. The event raised nearly $10,000.

The funds can be used for medical bills, but committee members encourage recipients "to do something they've never done."

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