The sun is expected to shine Friday on the Hoggy Doggy Shadow Splash, when brave souls will jump into the cold South Platte River.
Splashers will take to the water at 3 p.m. on Groundhog Day to raise money for hungry schoolkids. The temperature is forecast to reach the upper 40s, maybe even 50, the National Weather Service in North Platte said.
This year’s theme, “Drowning Childhood Hunger,” reflects the charity chosen to benefit from the jumpers -- the Adopt-a-Backpack program that sends food home with school kids on weekends.
Splashers donate $100 each before they take the plunge. Among this year’s leading teams, 10 employees of JC Penny’s have made the commitment, co-organizer Russ Jones said.
Organizers hope to raise thousands of dollars. In the last 15 years, the Shadow Splash has raised $200,000 for charity, even though the polar bear celebration was just a private dip for Jones, Paloucek and co-organizer David Fudge for a couple years.
"Adopt a Backpack is a partnership between several agencies that provides a backpack full of food to keep hungry children fed during school year weekends when students have no access to school lunch,” co-organizer Jim Paloucek said. “If these kids don’t get this assistance, they come back to school on Monday hungry and not ready to learn. This program fills that need.”
Funding for the backpack program has largely come from grants, which don’t fully fill the need. Currently 120 packs are furnished every week, but there are 1,000 students on the free and reduced lunch program, Jones said.