Posted by: sonewjersey | February 15, 2012

Why I Plunge

by Amanda Ricci, guest blogger and first-time Seaside Plunger

Donate to a charity…support a good cause…

These customs are what we’re taught growing up. It may not be until we are a little more mature that we begin to realize the impact we can have and the difference we can make. From collecting canned goods in elementary school to raising money and running 5Ks to fight cancer, somewhere along that path I learned the importance of support.

ImageI had never really known what the Polar Bear Plunge was all about. All I had heard were whispers of what these crazed Plungers would do: strip down to bathing suits in February…yes, in the middle of winter…and do what? Run into the ocean?! It seemed a bit out there for my taste, but then a few friends convinced me to sign up for one.

It was an experience to say the least. The rush you get from waiting until that heart-pounding moment when you get to sprint as fast as you can into the frigid waters, only to turn around and sprint back out, is definitely worth the feeling of frost-bitten toes afterward.  It wasn’t until my brother-in-law became a seasoned Plunger for the Special Olympics New Jersey (SONJ) Seaside Heights Plunge that I recognized the amazing cause this particular Plunge was supporting.

He finally convinced me to Plunge this year (my second time, but first with SONJ), and I must say it didn’t take a lot of convincing. My previous Plunge supported the local beach town, and while this was still a good cause, I felt the need to support a different Plunge. A very good family friend of ours has been an athlete with SONJ for years, and get this…he is signed up and ready to Plunge with our team!

This young man is one of the most amazing men I know. Kind-hearted, respectful, good-natured are all words that don’t even begin to describe him. His family has been in my life since way back before I can remember. They are a wonderful group of individuals and amazing friends that were and still are always there for my family.

ImageThey are a family of supporters and givers, and these traits are very evident in their children as well. You wouldn’t know that their son has Cerebral Palsy. He’s only two years younger than me and I don’t think I was even aware of his condition until later on in our families’ friendship.

He is just like everyone else, as we often saw him as a little brother tagging along on our adventures. I have many memories of him walking around our neighborhood with his loyal dog, making friends and conversation with anyone who was around. It wasn’t before long that he had befriended the entire complex.

He’d bring over our annual gift of Christmas pepperoni bread and even stop by on his walk to help us carry boxes into our car on the day we moved. Never thinking twice about doing something good for people and doing what was right, he just knew and he acted.

But it’s our turn now. We Plunge for him…and for all the kindness and joy he has spread throughout places reaching far beyond our little neighborhood.

To my friend: seeing you now with all of your accomplishments, ranging from holding jobs to being named the SONJ Athlete of the Year in Fall Sports, makes every person you know proud to be a part of your life. You give inspiration to other individuals with special needs, and you truly are a great role model. People love to be around you and that is something to be proud of. Just as we will leave footprints in the sand in Seaside, you leave footprints in the hearts of all who meet you.

For more information on the Seaside Plunge, coming up on February 25, visit www.njpolarplunge.org

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Responses

  1. Beautifully written, Amanda! We love you! PS- Go Zander and Team!!!

  2. Oh Amanda! I don’t know what to say – so many emotions – what a special woman you are — I love you!! XXOO


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