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RUTHER GLEN – A group of 70 people braved chilly weather and the icy water of Lake Land’Or to raise money for a good cause.
The annual Polar Bear Plunge, sponsored by Wright’s Chapel United Methodist Church, raised $17,546 on Saturday of last week. The funds will be used by participating churches to help pay for heating bills of people who need assistance as well as stocking church food pantries to help the needy.
The 70 brave souls who took the plunge pledged in advance to solicit donations for the cause. They lined up in the chilly morning – the temperature was 34 degrees – and raced into the water, which was a mere 36 degrees. Organizers had two bonfires blazing on the beach to help them warm up after the brief dip.
The festivities for this year’s eighth annual event also included, for the first time, a chili cook-off, which helped make warm bodies as well as raise additional funds.
The leading fundraiser for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge was Ruther Glen attorney Susan Hafey, who collected more than $2,830 and received the event’s ‘Golden Plunger’ award.
Winners of the costume contest were:
• Best Overall, Scott Moser and Ken Grier – the ‘Blues Brothers.’
• Best Male Costume, Robert Bingaman – the ‘Christmas Elf.’
• Best Female Costume, Wesleigh Beamer – ‘Miss Polar Bear Plunge’
• Best Group, St. Asaph’s Episcopal Church ‘Jellyfish’ – Susan Hafey, Sherry Gravatt,
Chip Campbell, Lynn Lenahan, Bambi Willis, Mark Sullivan, Mark DePollo, Deborah Howard, Jean Young, and Dana Barker.
Seven people entered the chili contest. The winner was John Copeland with his ‘Hacienda Chili.’
The festivities also include a DJ and music, a dunk tank, and make-your-own s’mores.
Wright’s Chapel has been sponsoring the event since 2006. When it began, the primary focus was to raise money to help people in need pay heating bills. Other churches got involved after the inaugural year.
In addition to St. Asaph’s Episcopal, the other participating churches for this year’s event were St. Mary of the Annunciation, Macedonia Baptist, Rehoboth United Methodist, Salem Baptist, and Calvary Baptist.