Plunging for a cause

Published 5:24 pm Saturday, January 31, 2015

As you read this, I have completed my third jump into East Side Lake as part of Plunging for Pink. It’s an honor to participate and raise funds to help fund breast cancer research at the Hormel Institute. I jump in honor of cancer survivors in my life including my mother Susan Wilgenbusch and my uncle Michael Murphy. I also jump in memory of loved ones who lost their lives to cancer: Betty Wilgenbusch and Bob Murphy.

Plunging for Pink is part of the larger Paint the Town Pink effort, which involves thousands of people all over Mower County in February each year.

The plunge was started in 2012 as part of the Vision 2020 Waterways committee. That committee has a goal of launching events to help residents and visitors connect with our waterways including the Cedar River, East Side Lake and the Mill Pond. Thanks to Plunging for Pink team leaders Joe Muzik, Cody Anderson and Brieg Anderson. The event in 2014 raised over $37,000 and I expect to see great results again this year.

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Paint the Town Pink is a great example of Austin’s spirit of generosity. And it is fitting that the team that jumped with me this year represented many of the great organizations in Austin that are helping to create a great future for our community—both with their own initiatives and through Vision 2020.

My thanks to the community leaders jumping with me: Dr. Adenuga Atewologun of Riverland Community College, Belita Schindler of Austin ArtWorks, Eric Olson of KSMQ Public Television, Craig Oscarson of Mower County, State Senator Dan Sparks, Trey Mewes of the Austin Daily Herald, John Wright and Paul Fischer of KAUS Radio and Mayor Tom Stiehm with his daughter Chrissy Stiehm. Each of you helps make Austin a better place to live, learn, work and play.

If you just shook your head in wonder at the the thought of jumping into February waters here in Minnesota, I have good news. I’ve heard that next year there will be a special “pinky plunge” for folks to dip their pinky into the water. If that is what it takes to get more people out appreciating our waterways AND supporting the groundbreaking work of the scientists at the Hormel Institute, I’m all for it!

Reminder, Bremer Bank of Austin and Vision 2020 Community Pride & Spirit are collaborating on the Keep the Spirit Alive volunteer service challenge in 2015. To find out more, go to at or find us on Facebook at ‘Spread the Spirit in Austin MN.’