CHICAGO -- Dan O'Conor, known as the Great Lake Jumper, has been plunging into Lake Michigan every day for nearly a year.
"I started jumping in Lake Michigan on June 13, that was the first day, and the first day I came down here was because I was hungover. And it felt so good I just started doing it every day," O'Conor said.
What started as a hangover cure has developed into a stress reliever during a difficult year.
"You know, with everything that was happening, you talk about June, it was the pandemic and the politics and the protests, just all of that, I could come down here and dive in the water and it would just kind of clear it, clear the palette and cleanse the day, start anew," he said.
Even during the cold Chicago winter, O'Conor continued to plunge into the lake.
"I think last Monday it was 1 degree. The temperature doesn't seem to bother me, it's the wind. So that day it was -15 wind chill and my hair turned to icicles right after I got out of the water. I realized I had to be a hundred percent present because the danger of slipping on the snow, on the ice, and just make sure that I was staying close to the ladder and coming out," he said.
Now, O'Conor has teamed up with a local organization to raise funds and awareness for Chicago's music scene that has been hit the hardest by COVID-19.
"I'm a big fan of live music and just wanted to support the local venues so I partnered up with Civl Chicago, the Chicago independent venue league, and just all these small venues that really have been affected by COVID," he explained. "They were the first to close and they'll be the last to reopen. And so, I thought it was important to give back to the community that has given me so much joy over the years. So I teamed with them and people started donating right away."
Musician Thomas Pace showed his support by performing at Montrose Harbor.
"I think that we're fortunate to have Dan out here advocating for us and it's no surprise to see that the entertainment industry is suffering. We need efforts like this to keep these venues alive so when the pandemic is over, we have something to return to," said Pace.
As for O'Conor, he has no plans on stopping any time soon.
"I think I'll keep going until I get out of town," he said.
For more on Dan's jumps, follow him on Twitter @TheRealDtox.
To support Civl Chicago, visit their website at CivlChicago.com.
Chicago man jumps into Lake Michigan every day
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