Great Polar Bear Challenge

Hundreds of hardy souls will brave the icy cold waters of Lucky Peak on New Year’s morning for the annual Great Polar Bear Challenge. The event is a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho.

BOISE – It’s time once again to take the plunge.

The ninth annual Great Polar Bear Challenge, a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Idaho, is just around the corner. This year’s event is set for Sunday, Jan. 1, at the Spring Shores Marina at Lucky Peak Reservoir.

Brave and dedicated individuals will kick off the New Year by plunging into the icy water, with some even attempting to ski and wakeboard. Funds raised from the event will be used to grant wishes to Idaho children battling life-threatening medical conditions. Each year the Idaho Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation serves more than 90 children.

The Great Polar Bear Challenge is a fun family event that challenges people of all ages to face adversity while making an impact in the lives of many courageous children.

Prizes will be awarded to the three individuals who raise the most money. Prize categories include swim and water ski/wake board, and are divided into two divisions: adults (18+) and youth (17 and under).

Heated changing tents will be provided along with coffee and hot chocolate from Moxie Java and donuts from La Vie En Rose.

How to participate

There is no cost to sign up. Individuals can sign up as a team or individually. Each person is asked to raise a minimum of $50 in donations through the online giving website. Visit to sign up and set up your giving web page. You may also collect donations and bring them with you to check-in on Jan. 1. All participants will receive a T-shirt and be eligible for a variety of prizes.

Event history

News Channel 7 weatherman Larry Gebert, an avid water skier, first teamed with the Make-A-Wish Foundation on New Year’s Day 2002 for the challenge. Since then the fundraising event has generated more than a quarter of a million dollars to aid local kids who face life-threatening illnesses.

Gebert and friend Gary Arbaugh organized the first event. The challenge has grown from 35 participants to several hundred.

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