Polar plunge performed at Hickory Grove Lake

Aubry Glenn and Alicia Holden would have enjoyed watching three young adults from Marshalltown plunge into the chilly waters of Hickory Grove Lake Saturday morning.

And to show their appreciation, the two would have been the first to offer their benefactors a blanket and warm beverage.

Glenn, 15, of Marshalltown and Holden, 6, of Conrad, are fighting debilitating forms of cancer.

Rallying to help their causes by plunging into the lake’s ice cold waters were Samantha Ortega, 22, Frankie Osbourne, 27 and Kirstyn Smith, 23, all of Marshalltown.

The trio had pledged to perform a “polar plunge” – a popular form of fundraising – to help the cancer victims.

Smith organized Saturday’s event at the popular lake southwest of Colo after being challenged to raise money for Holden.

Ortega and Osbourne agreed to help.

The team decided to support not one, but two worthy causes.

As a strong wind whipped waves on the water’s surface, the trio sprinted into the lake, and after running about 30 yards, dove in, surfaced, and ran back to the comfort of towels and blankets.

A wave of polar plunges have been inspired by Landon Shaw, a 6-month old baby from Tarkio, Mo., who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.

Shaw has endured two surgeries – and nearly died after one.

Neighbors of parents Brandon and Alyssa Shaw came up with the idea of a campaign whereby one plunges into cold water, and then challenges three more people to do the same – or pay $100 within the next 24 hours.

Facebook sites sprang up promoting the infant’s cause.

People magazine reported the effort, and a tidal wave of support followed.

Consequently, many in central Iowa have followed suit to raise money to help families pay for significant medical expenses.

Glenn was diagnosed with inoperable cancer of the spine last year and is currently resting at home, after extended stays at University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City.

“Angels for Aubry” – a group of family and friends – have worked extensively to help her and family.

Holden was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor earlier this year and has received treatments at University Hospitals and St. Jude’s Research Center in Memphis, Tenn.

The tumor was removed, but more hospitalization and treatment followed.

Staff at BCLUW Elementary School, where Holden attends as a kindergartner, did a plunge, among many other efforts, to help the cause.

A Facebook page has been created to help publicize her fight.

Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com