Posted by: sonewjersey | March 11, 2010

Guest Post: Amy Ricci, First Time Plunger!

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For the past three years, Kurt has participated in The Polar Bear Plunge. It is possibly the craziest charity event ever. People run into the ocean, in February, in New Jersey. It benefits The Special Olympics and each person raises money before taking the plunge. I signed up for the first time this year and let’s be honest, I was far from excited. I was flat-out dreading it. I do not enjoy being cold. I love Winter, but only when I can be curled up under a blanket, inside a heated house, drinking hot cocoa. I take super hot showers and don’t even like air conditioning that much (I end up turning it off half of the time because it gets too cold). So was it surprising that I had an awesome time at the Plunge on Saturday? Yes. Is it even more surprising that I plan to do it next year? Absolutely.

We lucked out. It was originally scheduled for February 27th, but it had snowed a lot on the 26th. While most people would think a little snow would make it that much more authentic, I would think a little snow would cause a lot of frostbitten toes. I think the organizers agreed with me. It was postponed until March 6th, this past Saturday. The bad news was that Kurt and another team member had to work and so couldn’t make it. The good news was that it was a balmy 50 degrees and the water temperature was a scalding 42 degrees. Alright, not exactly sunbathing weather, but it was WAY better than 30 degrees and snow, right? We waited until the very last second to take off our coats, sweatpants, and sweatshirts (see “before” picture below) and get down to our bathing suits and even then, I stood there in my bikini, shivering and jumping from one foot to the other.

There are two ways to do the plunge. The first is to race into the water when they blow the horn. This allows you to get in quickly, but you then realize that getting OUT quickly is not going to happen since 4,000 people are running in behind you. The second option is to wait a minute or two before going in, thus allowing you to get out quickly. This was the option we chose. While we were able to get out quickly enough, we could not get IN quickly enough. While walking down to the water on wet, freezing cold sand, weaving through the throngs of wet, cold people who have already plunged and trying desperately not to touch them, my feet began to go numb. We tried to push through faster, but it just wasn’t possible. I finally got to the water, ran in, dove under a wave, jumped up, and promptly ran out to take pictures before drying off (see “after” picture below).

The whole “plunging” experience lasting about 10 seconds, but it was totally worth it and it was invigorating! It was fun! It wasn’t as bad as I had thought it would be. Even attempting to (and succeeding in) changing out of my swimsuit on the beach without revealing ANYTHING was fun.

All in all, we raised over $900,000 for the Special Olympics. I may rave (and complain) about the experience and the fun and the cold, but let’s not forget the true message. The Seaside Heights Polar Bear Plunge is the largest in New Jersey, but it’s only one of the many across the country raising money for a worthy cause. I will definitely be participating again next year. Who’s with me??

**Thanks Amy for your awesome entry!  Looking forward to seeing you at the Plunge next year! **

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