Who We Are
The Frozen Chosen was formed to provide veterans AND residents of the State of Montana, an opportunity for team building functions, including Cold Plunges, hikes, bbq’s, holiday fundraisers and outreach for individuals or families in financial hardship and/or veteran liaison assistance. We are based in Northwest Montana, near Bigfork and Glacier National Park.
The organization is run by a seven member all-volunteer board. This allows us to maximize the use of donations to serve our Veterans and communities surrounding. We have no paid staff in contrast with other organizations who may serve Veterans in some capacity, but whose budget is primarily used to cover fundraising and other administrative costs.
Our mission is to take groups of all ages and sizes up to 30 for a 3 minute Flathead Valley Cold Plunge and experience camaraderie at its finest. We strive to reach wounded veterans and reach out to those with natural healing needs through cold water!
We focus solely on raising funds for those in need that we as a board learn of through a team member or a personal interview. We have the knowledge and time to help those who may need help from Veterans Administration or local community help with life. We are passionate about giving and giving what people need.
These outdoor excursions serve many purposes, including:
Giving others the chance to thank these men and women for the sacrifice they have made for our country.
Giving people the chance to get out and participate in activities that they may have felt that they would never be able to do again due to their disabilities.
Giving Veterans another opportunity to heal.
Giving financial support through camaraderie and fundraising.
Vetrans Founders Helping Each Other Heal
People have told us that the most important aspect of these cold plunges other than the outdoor opportunity itself, is the chance to get together with other Veterans and people and talk about what they went through in the field of combat, how they are coping with their wounds, and how they are attempting to transition back into civilian life… in other words it’s part of their healing process.
This healing process may start in a Veterans Administration (VA) hospital with group sessions supervised by medical and military staff but most of the Veterans we have had the honor of helping tell us that the informal setting we provide them where they freely interact with each other is much more helpful then the more structured programs they have been exposed to in the past.
What Our Fundraiser Pays For
Our fundraising efforts go towards funding trips needed for assistance which could include high quality food and lodging and travel costs. Organizations provide discounted, and in some cases, free trips. But we can’t ask every organization to do this with all of our needs. We fund raise year-round in order to provide as many trips as possible per year.
Tax-deductible and low overhead mean maximum adventure for Veterans
We are an IRS-registered 501(c)(3) so any donation you make to The Frozen Chosen will be tax deductible. Rest assured that your donations will go toward taking Montana Veterans in need of recreational or clinical help in the state of Montana. We have no paid staff. We believe in serving as volunteers. Thank you for your support.
Meet the Founders
Craig was raised in southwest Michigan by a Marine and daughter of a Marine veteran who fought on Iwo Jima. His grandfather on his dad’s side was a Navy veteran who also saw combat in WWII. At 18, Craig knew that through his exposure to aviation and what he’d learned about the Marine Corps and military in general, that college was not for him. He enlisted in March 2001, and went to boot camp with a friend in October 2001. He considers himself fortunate to have gotten the exact MOS he signed up for – a CH-53 Crew Chief. He was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, HI with the HMH-362 Ugly Angels. He deployed to Iwakuni, Japan, The Philippines, Okinawa, India, and participated in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) in 2004 and 2006.
He was discharged from the Marine Corps honorably as a Sgt. in October 2006. He then worked as a civilian contractor at NAS North Island, Coronado, CA for nearly seven years on the CH-53. He has also worked in BMW sales, and is the host of Veteran Transitions Podcast. He moved to Bigfork, MT in October 2022, and intends to call the Flathead Valley home forever. He plans to start a family, raise his own cattle and chickens, and continue to serve others live healthier and more fulfilling lives.
In January 2023, Craig was motivated to start cold plunging when his friends, Trevor and Ryan, owners of Bump Coffee in San Diego, CA, began ice bathing with their employees. Craig started with lying in the snow for up to three minutes. When he finally worked up the courage to try the water, he made it 30 seconds solo in Flathead Lake. Feeling like there was more work to do, he invited some friends from Montana Athletic Club in Bigfork. He was joined by The Frozen Chosen co-founder, Luke Opp, Jacob Lewis, Lou Hamel and Lou’s girlfriend, Jordan. They have since hosted weekly plunges, which quickly turned into daily plunges.
Luke was raised in Columbia Falls, MT by a wonderful father and mother; his grandfather on his dads side was a Marine as was his uncle. Luke grew up quicker than most and was the oldest of 6 kids in the family. At 16 while his mother was fighting her 2nd battle with cancer she went home to be with the Lord on April 15th, 1995. At 18 Luke didn’t have any direction and knew he just wanted to work and forego the college route. In 1999 he joined the Marine Corps and became an AAV Mechanic at Camp Pendleton. He deployed to Camp Schwab, Okinawa and also Camp Fuji Japan.
In 2001 Luke met the love his life and married in July of 2001, almost 22 years later he is still humbly blessed to be married to the women of his dreams. Luke was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps as a Sergeant in January 2003. Luke has completed multiple leadership courses and led teams of 73 at a 4 year career at BNSF. He is a successful General Contractor and owns Glacier Mountain Builders. Luke and Amanda live in their forever home in Bigfork, Mt.
Luke began Cold Plunging with Co-Founder Craig after having a conversation about the old Corps days one day at the gym in January of 2023, Luke took Craig up on an offer to go for a plunge in Flathead Lake and so The Frozen Chosen had culminated from there. With a tight knit crew from the start with Luke, Craig, Jake, Lou and Jordan, the outreach was Luke’s dream to care about people and bring people together through an outlet he never saw. His Faith has led him in his life and he is fortunate to pay it forward through this venture.