When Bob Neumann of St. Francis, Minn., went to watch a Polar Bear Plunge last weekend, he had no idea it would be his own wedding ring that would be taking the plunge, into the snow.
Neumann, 43, brought his 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome, to the event Saturday to support a friend who was dipping into the chilly waters of the state’s Crooked Lake to raise money for the Special Olympics.
As Neumann bent down to pick up his daughter at one point, he felt his ring fall off into the snow.
“I looked but the snow there was loose and I just kept looking and looking,” Neumann, married for 10 years to his wife, Belinda, told ABCNews.com.
Neumann continued his search throughout the day and night, and then went back the next morning after his night shift as a nurse to continue the search, relying on the old-fashioned tools of a rake, a shovel and an ice pick to get the job done.
“I had a metal detector that I determined was not a very good one,” he said. “I planted quarters in the snow and lost the quarters so I knew I was wasting my time playing with it.”
Neumann kept returning to the lake, a 25-minute drive from his home, every morning after work to continue his search, totaling nearly 12 hours in all.
“I usually go to the gym in the morning and I thought I couldn’t, in good conscience, go to the gym when I could go out to the lake to look for my ring,” he said. “It’s been on my mind the whole time.”
Yesterday, on Valentine’s Day, Neumann drove separately from his wife to a morning meeting at their son’s school so that he could pick up his search right after. His wife, whom he described as “supportive but not wanting it [the search] to hang over my head,” left him with the parting words, “Go find that ring.”
Just a few hours later, Neumann was able to text his wife a photo that he had done just that, found his long-lost wedding ring in the snow, and on Valentine’s Day.
“She was crying,” he said. “And she reminded me that on our first Valentine’s Day together she’d given me a bear that said, ‘I love you all day every day,’ and she had that inscribed on my wedding ring.”
“Twelve Valentine’s Days later, I found my ring with that engraving,” he said.
Also adding to the irony was that the friend whom Neumann had gone to the lake to support in the first place, the Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser, was a groomsman at his wedding.
“He was there the day I got my wedding ring,” Neumann said.
Neumann said he was hopeful on Thursday he’d find the ring after he decided to expand his search area by about three feet and started finding the blue ties that held the spectator fence together, meaning he was close to his original spot.
“I was hopeful I was getting close,” he told ABCNews.com by phone, while relaxing at home for the first morning this week. “I’d probably been dancing around that ring for a couple of days.”