Audrey’s Purple Plunge raises more than $6,000

The 16th anniversary of Audrey’s Purple Dream was held Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022.

Kevin George playfully got all dolled up for Audrey's Purple Plunge, held Saturday in Akeley.
Shannon Geisen / Park Rapids Enterprise

Thirteen hearty souls plunged into 11th Crow Wing Lake on Saturday, cheered on by locals.

This was the 16th anniversary of Audrey’s Purple Dream, held in honor of lifelong Akeley resident Audrey Pidde, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2004. Her dream was to take a trip to Alaska, but she passed away before that trip was realized.

This year’s polar plungers raised around $6,300, which will benefit area cancer patients.

Many paid tribute to their own loved ones who have or are fighting cancer.

Cynthia McGrath took the plunge, saying it was for a good cause. She thanked Audrey's Purple Dream for helping so many of her friends.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Cynthia McGrath participated because “it’s a wonderful cause. They’ve helped many of my friends.” She raised $660.


As she emerged with a curse word, she colorfully confirmed that the water was cold. Park Rapids DNR Fisheries staff estimated the lake temperature was 36 degrees. Meanwhile, the air temperature hit a high of 1 degree on Saturday, with wind chills dipping well below zero.

Randy Leritze plunges Saturday, Feb. 12 in Akeley.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Randy Leritz of Park Rapids dove for the first time. He gathered $120 for the cause. He did it in honor of Arnie Leritz, who died in Nov. 2021 from lymphoma.

“You can do it!” the crowd shouted. When Randy hesitated, someone called out, “It’s not getting any warmer!”

Brandy Vredenburg emerges with assistance, purple-clad and bedraggled. Not only did she complete the plunge, but the audience sang "Happy Birthday."
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Brandy Vredenburg raised an impressive $1,200 – and birthday wishes from the audience.

Kevin George, a Park Rapids resident, jumped for Jerry Olson, who died of cancer last summer.

Laura Powers is the longest standing polar plunger. She has participated every year since 2005.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Laura Powers is queen of the polar plunge. She has participated every single year, in honor of Audrey, her mother and her grandpa.

This winter, she convinced her nephew, Riley Denham of Winchester, Tennessee, to submerge into the ice-cold lake.

Sam Hitchcock of Akeley is another avid local plunger. According to his mom, Lacey, he has participated every year since 2011.


“The reason I know is because his grandma passed away that year,” she said.

Morgan Monroe was the youngest local participant. She was the only one under 18. This was her fourth year raising money to help cancer patients with their medical expenses.

Kaia Dunham, also from Akeley, has plunged for 14 years. Audrey was her great-aunt.

Dominic Rose of Pine River plunged for "the thrill of a lifetime" and to raise funds for local cancer patients.
Shannon Geisen/Park Rapids Enterprise

Fishing tourney results

The fishing tournament, also held on Saturday, attracted 223 contestants. They caught a total of 208 fish – 206 of them being perch.

Twenty-three prizes were awarded, with $1,000 given to the 16th place fish. That winner was Marlys Lehn, who reeled in a 7-ounce perch.

Keith Torma took first place with his 1-pound, 14.5-ounce bass. Josh Severtson placed second. He caught a 1-pound, 6-ounce walleye.

Amery Ruffin of St. Cloud won the raffle’s grand prize, a 2022 Ice Castle RV Edition.


The Akeley Ice Racing Club donated $500 toward Audrey’s Purple Dream. Twenty racers dashed around the circular track on Saturday.

Music, awards and a silent auction at the Red River Event Center concluded this year’s event.

Shannon Geisen is editor of the Park Rapids Enterprise.
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