Have you taken ‘The Plunge?’

From left, Scott Hollens, Frank Killingsworth and Troy Lovenburg all take “The Plunge for Landon.” Photo by Chelsie Alexander.


Your heart is racing and feels like it may beat right out of your chest. You look over at the others who are daring to do this right along with you and try to prepare yourself for what you are about to endure. Three, Two, One, Jump!

The first thing you notice is that the water feels like a thousand little needles hitting your skin but, before you can really focus on the stinging sensation, all the air escapes your body and you channel all of your energy on getting out of the water so you can catch your breath. Once you have made it to the side you beg your muscles to cooperate and get you out. Everything is numb. Once you get out, you can’t stop shivering.

Why on earth would nearly everyone in Falls City put themselves through this? Why have so many people jumped into ice-cold water?

They did it for a little boy battling for his life.

Everyone is “Plunging” to help raise money for Landon Shaw, son of Brandon and Alyssa Shaw of Tarkio, Missouri. Last February four month old Landon was diagnosed with a rare malignant cancer that affects the kidneys, liver, lungs and brain.  When the citizens of Tarkio heard about the diagnosis and began asking what they could do. The answer was not what you would expect. The idea dreamed up by a bunch of dads was simple, you record yourself before you jump into ice cold water telling who you were challenged by to complete this chilly task.  Then you challenge someone else to do the same, offering to donate an amount of money for each person who completes the challenge. The jump is recorded and placed online for others to see. As of April 21st over 50,133 people had joined the “Plunge For Landon” Facebook page.

The “Plunge for Landon Challenge” was launched March 30 and has spread all over the world. From California, to Ireland, to Afghanistan, it seems everyone is willing to plunge for Landon. The number of people who have participated has been staggering and surpassed everyones wildest expectations. Someone in nearly every state has accepted the challenge. Missouri Congressman Sam Graves recently dove into the Potomac River in his suit-and-tie for Landon and in the process challenged the Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and to State Rep. Mike Thomson.

Falls City Journal employees Jim Langan, Chelsie Alexander and Nikki McKim took the plunge a few weeks ago at the home of Scott and Stacey Hollens. As of April 9th, Stacy had estimated that over 60 people had used their pool to complete their plunge with many, many more people using it since then.  The Journal Staff challenged the Fairbury Journal-News and the members of Community Medical Center with the intention of donating ten dollars for each employee who completes the challenge. Shandelle Lovenberg of Falls City completed the plunge in its early stages, “I did it because it’s for a good cause. I think it’s great that so many people in our community took the plunge for baby Landon to help him and his family out.” Shandelle completed the challenge along with her mother Donna Lovenburg, Aunt Wendy Craig and family friend Jennifer Campbell on a day when the high was only 52 degrees. “I think that my lungs temporarily collapsed from the moment I hit the water until I got out, which would’ve been a quicker process if my mother would have gotten out of my way!” Shandelle recalls.

The plunge has drawn some controversy here lately when an Oskaloosa, IA man broke his neck participating in the plunge. Another person in Iowa was also injured while jumping into shallow water.  Some officials like Sheriff Lyle Palmer of the Page County, Iowa Sheriff’s Department have gone as far as warning people against doing it. “I think it’s a great and wonderful cause. It’s a great idea. We just need to find a safe place to do this.” He suggested, “Fill up a kiddie pool and let it sit overnight, or use a hose, or a bathtub – there are other creative options. I just want the public to be aware being in the water in county parks is illegal for a reason.” Others have been ticketed for trespassing in lakes or ponds that don’t allow swimming at this time or at all. In some cases trespassing in these areas could result in formal charges resulting in 30 days in jail.

Participants hearts are in the right place and it continues to spread across the world. Landon and the Shaw family still have a long road ahead filled with CT scans, MRI’s, Chemotherapy sessions and travel expenses. The family is on Medicaid, which won’t be able to cover everything. You don’t have to “take the plunge” to donate, checks may be written out to Landon Shaw and sent to the Flower Mill, 606 Main Street, Tarkio, MO 64491.

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