By Ian Adler
This year marked the sixth annual “Polar Bear Plunge” to help benefit Special Olympics of York County. The event’s main goal is to fundraise to help pay for programs SOYC runs for its athletes.
Participants raise money, show up to the John Wright restaurant in Wrightsville and take a dip in the frozen Susquehanna River. However, there is much more to it than just hopping into ice cold water.
Many plungers dress up in creative costumes, as the event features a “costume contest” with categories such as “most outrageous” or “most creative.” There are also fun activities, with 96.1 WSOX broadcasting music for everyone to dance to throughout the day (the event goes from around 10 AM to 1 PM).
“The energy was a lot higher this year than last year,” Mrs. Carrie Smeltzer, Health teacher and event organizer said. “I think the weather had a lot to do with it and we had a lot of the athletes participate in the dances and things, so I think that made the energy a lot better.”
Red Lion’s team, “RL Hardcore” brought plenty of first time plungers to the stage.
“I think it’s a great event,” English teacher Mr. James Marsala said after taking the plunge. “It’s my first time here, and it’s awesome. It’s a great cause and a really fun time.”
“It was a shock at first, but after coming out of the water, it wasn’t that bad,” Mr. Ryan Small of the English department said. “My sister is actually in the special education program up at Bloomsburg, and she loved doing this last year, so I figured I’d come out and help a good cause and help Mrs. Smeltzer out too.”
“From Red Lion, I would like to see more of our administrators and teachers, colleagues, joining the team,” said Smeltzer. “I know that the students have a lot more fun when they have those individuals joining with them.”
With over 1,000 participants this year, about 350 showed up on the day of the plunge to sign up, marking a record attendance for the event.
The planning committee will meet in May to determine a date for next year’s plunge. Participants can start signing up around the 2015 holiday season.
“I want to put it out to the Rowdies to come next year.” Small said. Polar Bear Plungers ‘Freezin for a reason’, raised over $115,000
The Polar Plunge benefits the York County Special Olympics on an annual basis.
By Cindy Buttorf
Each year in the beginning of February, weather permitting, thousands of people gather world wide to take a breathtaking plunge into icy cold waters.
Five years ago, health teacher Mrs. Carrie Smeltzer brought the idea of the Polar Bear Plunge to York County, making it now York County’s largest fundraiser that benefits the York County Special Olumpics. Smeltzer started it to bring money in for the athletes to help pay for invitational events and specific equipment.
The first year the plunge took place in York, the event was a big accomplishment. “The first year was easy compared to now, it was new, I got butterflies because of the unknown. Will people show up and will they raise money?” Smeltzer said, recalling the thoughts from the first day of the plunge. This year over 300 people took part in the plunge and raised approximately $43,000.
Smeltzer had to leave her teaching position at the end of first semester last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer. “Last year was bitter sweet. The seniors knew my situation and supported me through the plunge,” Smeltzer said. That year was the largest turn out thus far for Red Lion, having 43 students participate in the plunge.
“I beat breast cancer, raising two kids, being a wife and a mom, running Special Olympics swimming and Polar Bear Plunge, just trying to stay as normal as possible.” Smeltzer said when she was asked about her year off. “[The experience] gave me a different out look on life; slow down, don’t take life for granted, absorb the little things. Just mainly slow down,” Smeltzer said.
There is always a little hesitation when it comes to trying something new and stepping outside of your comfort zone, but Smeltzer’s plea is, “Just do it, give it a try, and it’s three minutes of your life you will never forget.” Another thing she would like to see is a greater teacher and administration turn out for next year’s plunge.
“I want to thank Reinert for supporting something near and dear to my heart and risking hypothermia each year. I also would like to thank everyone else who helps out during that day, I couldn’t do it without you,” Smeltzer said in sympathy.