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Oak Lawn optometrist urges everyone to take the Polar Plunge

Oak Lawn optometrist Casey Hogan is ready agatake annual Polar Plunge inLake Michigan March 2 raise money for Special Olympics

Oak Lawn optometrist Casey Hogan is ready to again take the annual Polar Plunge into Lake Michigan on March 2 to raise money for Special Olympics Chicago. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 22, 2014 6:45AM



Casey Hogan is ready to again plunge into the chilly waters of Lake Michigan on the first Sunday of March, just as she has for the past eight years.

“Once you do it, you’re kind of hooked. When you think of how you’re helping the athletes, it’s a no-brainer,” she said.

Hogan, an optometrist who has a practice, Advanced Eye Care Professionals, 10320 Cicero Ave., Oak Lawn, is urging co-workers, patients and anyone she meets to do the same.

This year’s 14th annual Chicago Polar Plunge will raise funds for the Special Olympics, and Hogan, a Tinley Park resident, soon will become the president of the Chicago chapter of the organization.

“I’ve been on the board now since ’05 or ’06. ... This year, despite the weather, we’re not nervous at all. We have our first Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, doing the plunge,” Hogan said.

“Last year, (Oak Lawn) Mayor Sandy Bury did it while she was campaigning. She just wanted to support the cause,” she said.

If you decide to take the plunge, you may encounter water temperatures of about 40 degrees.

“But it’s fun. You can go in ankle, knee or waist deep. It’s your decision. Some people go in under the water,” Hogan said.

She has yet to go that deep, but Hogan has plunged and lived to tell about it.

About 2,000 people are expected to participate in the March 2 event at North Avenue Beach in Chicago. You can register, which is free, online at www.sochi
cago.org and get more information at www.firstgiving.com.

“All we ask is that the participants raise a minimum of $150, which is easy to do. It’s infectious. It’s a big party on the beach,” Hogan said.

Last year, Hogan was going through chemotherapy for a form of lupus but insisted on doing the plunge. Because she lost her hair through the treatment, members of her plunge team wore blue wigs to show their support for her.

“That experience showed me that there’s a challenge, and you get through it, just like these kids do (in the Special Olympics),” Hogan said.

Her suggestions for anyone interested in making the plunge: Wear a funny costume, expect to have a good time, quickly look for the souvenir T-shirt and warm towel after your plunge and plan to stay afterward for a live band and food.

And what about that chilly lake water?

“It really isn’t that bad,” she said with a smile. “I think this is going to be a big year. Don’t let the weather deter you. You don’t do this in tropical weather. You’re doing it because you want to tell your family and friends ‘I did the Polar Plunge and it was cold and I did it for a great cause.’”

Hogan hopes to get a team of 20 or more together from the eye clinic. If she does, the Special Olympics provides a bus to take the team to North Avenue Beach and back to Oak Lawn.

And if you need more incentive, you can pose with a polar bear in the lobby of her practice if you donate $5 to the Special Olympics. That way, you don’t have to jump into frigid lake water in order to help, she said.



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