Polar Pig Raises $19,000 for Hospice

Origianally published in the Jamestown Sun on February 04, 2014
By Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun

A beauty queen, a firefighter, superheroes, clowns, kids and a giant parrot all leaped into water on a snowy day to earn $19,000 for Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s hospice program Saturday in the Polar Pig — Walk the Plank fundraiser.DSC_4697

“That’s the biggest amount of money we’ve ever made for them, and we’ve been doing it for seven years,” said Jan Wiese, treasurer of the Jamestown HOG Chapter that organizes the annual fundraiser. “We were very pleased with that.” Sixteen people jumped into the heated water to benefit hospice, as snowflakes fell and HOG members set off fireworks, simulating cannon fire.

Each jumper then had to brave the 13-degree air to get back into the Stutsman Harley-Davidson building, changing out of soaking-wet costumes to warm back up.

“It was warm in there, but it was cold getting out,” said MacKenzie Johnson of Jamestown.

Johnson, who earned the title of Miss North Dakota Junior High, jumped into the water wearing a teal formal gown and a tiara, after raising $130 for JRMC Hospice.

Dennis Sand, also known as “Fluffy the Parrot,” wore a parrot costume and face paint for his jump.

As soon as Sand cannonballed into the water, the costume filled with water, making it difficult for Sand to stand up again.

“It’s just a good time, and it’s for a good cause,” Sand said. “It was great. It really was a lot of fun.”

He and the Jamestown Clowns raised $1,020 for JRMC Hospice.


Members of the Kaiser family made the watery hop together — first Cruze Kaiser, 6, followed by his father, Chad Kaiser, who held out his arms to his daughter, Mia, 4, who wore pink goggles, a purple tutu and matching purple shoes for her jump.

Before the event began, Mark Wiese, director of the local HOG group, said he hoped to exceed the previous year’s total of $17,000.

In addition to the plankwalking, the event also included a chili cook-off featuring a wide variety of chilis. Most seemed to have beans, but some had chicken or even olives as ingredients.

Then there was a silent auction, with cocktail sets, purses, gift baskets, salon products, live plants, framed oil paintings, a 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix and a set of two cheery lawn gnomes outfitted in Harley Davidson gear.

2012 Big Splash raises about $15,000 for JRMC Hospice

There was a chill in the air Saturday afternoon as 16 people walked the plank for charity.

More than 100 people were in attendance as costumed community members did their part at the Polar Pig Splash to raise money for hospice care in Jamestown.

“It’s just phenomenal to see the support and what they do here,” said Jan Barnes, Jamestown Regional Medical Center Foundation director. “You normally don’t see people putting in the energy for a project like this.”

This year about $15,000 was raised for hospice care at JRMC, said Don Wegner, activities director for the Jamestown Harley Owners Group, which organizes the event.

“It’s very, very important,” Barnes said. “It’s a program that we never want to lose.”

The event at Stutsman Harley-Davidson keeps growing each year. This year with the proceeds Barnes said JRMCE Hospice will be able to buy a specialty mattress and a suction pump to provide better care for hospice patients.

Polar Pig is the biggest fundraiser of the year for hospice care in Jamestown. Individuals or groups raise donations for their jump into the water.

Those not adventurous enough to brave the waters outside were able to compete in a chili cook off. For $5 people were able to sample 18 different types of chili and vote for their favorite.

“One guy was sweating,” said George Quigley, ABATE 8 representative, and chili server. “He took off his hat and said ‘see,’ so we must have a warm one in there.”

While the cost was a donation of $5, some people paid upwards of $50 for a chili sampling.

“This is kind of something to break up the winter blues,” Quigley said. “You can’t ride so have some chili.”

Wegner came up with the idea for the Polar Pig Splash six years ago.

“I know people that have (used hospice care) and they said it’s a really good program,” Wegner said. “It’s something you don’t want to use but it seems to benefit a lot of people and families.”

According to Barnes, JRMC Hospice has helped 604 families in the area since its inception more than decade ago.

A professional musician also provided some music during the event inside.

Les Davis, from North Carolina, originally Driscoll, N.D., came into Stutsman Harley-Davidson a few weeks ago to buy a sticker. He ended up buying a motorcycle and decided to donate his time on the electric organ.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Davis said. “I had to do it, it’s an honor.”

The studio musician has previously played with Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Mayer.

“It’s a surprise to all of us and I think everybody is pleased at the way it turned out,” said John Seifert, Stutsman Harley-Davidson general manger.

Seifert took over as manager early in January, but has been at the event in the past.

“I know for a fact it’s getting bigger and there’s more participation from the community and the Jamestown HOG Chapter,” he said.

Don Wilhelm Inc. also donated a used minivan to be auctioned off at the event with the proceeds going to hospice care.

“It’s a great donation to the hospice and I’m honored it is the only event they do and it’s held at our facility,” Seifert said.

Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at brodgers@jamestownsun.com

Polar Pig Splash aids Hospice

Pirates will once again take over Stutsman Harley-Davidson Saturday, raising money for the Jamestown Regional Medical Center Hospice Foundation in the Polar Pig Splash.

Participants in the Polar Pig Splash walk the plank for hospice. Starting at noon, they will jump into an 800-gallon tank of water during one of the coldest months of the year.

“We raised about $12,000 last year,” said Don Wegner, activities director for the Harley Owners Group of Jamestown. “… it’s always gotten bigger and bigger.”

In its first year, the Splash earned $4,000 for the hospice program, and the fundraising has grown every year since.

People tend to do crazy things at the Polar Pig Splash, all to benefit their cause. There are prizes for team spirit, wildest costume and best splash, which prompts some cannonball attempts.

Jumpers have come dressed as pigs, clowns and once, Wegner recalled, somebody dressed up as a chicken.

And, should this year’s event raise $20,000, Wegner will have his head shaved.

“It’s doable, $20,000 is. I’m going to bring a stocking cap just in case,” he said.

Generally, about 15 or 20 people participate in the Polar Pig Splash, but the crowd numbers in the hundreds. Even the first year when it was 20 below zero, a hundred people turned out to watch the event.

“When you hit the water, the water hit the sidewalk where people were standing — it just froze,” Wegner recalled.

The forecast for Saturday’s event is much friendlier, with a high of 21 and a low of 6.

To help take the edge off the chill, the Polar Pig Splash also features a chili cook-off, with taste-testing running from 10 a.m. to noon.

For $5, people can taste the 15 to 20 chilis entered in the contest. Past chilis have included ingredients as diverse as chicken, rice and seafood. Tasters sample each chili and vote on the best one. The winner receives a plaque as well as bragging rights.

“It’s open to everybody,” said George Quigley, of District 8 Abate of North Dakota, who is organizing the chili cook-off.

Competitors should pre-register for the contest by calling 320-5355. Chili should be brought to the site before 10 a.m.

All money from the chili cook-off goes toward the hospice program, along with funds raised by the silent auction, which begins at 9 a.m.

“You don’t want to use (hospice) ever, but it’s a good program for people who do need it,” Wegner said.

Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at klucin@jamestownsun.com