I was actually pretty calm on the morning of the Plunge. The drive to Seaside was uneventful. For those of you that have never been here and want to come watch the Plunge next year, (or look for the cast of Jersey Shore, if you’re into that sort of craptastic circus show), these are the signs you’ll look for once in the area.
I got there at 9 and I still had to park about 7 blocks away. Which seemed odd since it didn’t seem very crowded and the Plunge wasn’t until 1 pm.
This is what the beach looked like when I arrived.
It was cold, about 40 degrees, and there were winds of about 45 mph. I stayed bundled up in my coat up against a wall to get a break from the wind.
At one point I saw the Polar Bear. I had to get a picture with him!
By now it was flurrying. And getting a bit nervous.
At 12:30 it was time for everyone to move to the beach.
I had been a bit cold bundled up, but now that the Plunge time was getting closer it was time to lose the clothes. I took off several layers, until I was in just a bathing suit and tee shirt, and an old robe over that.
Five minutes before the Plunge started I ran into Tigger.
And then it was time. It was 1:00. It was crazy. Interestingly enough, at that moment it wasn’t cold anymore.
The folks from Special Olympics took a lot of pictures which you can see in the Special Olympics New Jersey 2012 Seaside Polar Bear Plunge Flickr set, and I happened to be in a couple. In this one I’m on the far right. The one with the green shirt and fat legs.
Photo credit Special Olympics New Jersey
I’m not gonna lie. The moment your foot touches the water it’s pretty shocking because it is absolutely freezing cold! some people got their feet wet and got out. I thought about it but in my mind that didn’t seem quite right. So I went in further, to my chest. Then I got out and went in search of my Mom, who had my towel, robe, clothes and coat. I must have moved down the beach after running into the water, because Mom was not where I left her. Or as it turned out, I wasn’t where I’d left me. I wandered around for more then 10 minutes in just my wet things looking for her. By the time I found her I was no longer dripping wet but frozen like a popsicle. We made our way off of the beach and headed out.
There were almost 6,000 plungers and 3,000 spectators, and more then $1.4 million was raised. For those of you that think that’s a lot, it is, but it isn’t enough. This week in Public Speaking I gave my first major speech. my topic was why fundraising through the Polar Bear Plunge is so important to Special Olympics New Jersey. I hope you’ll watch it. (If you do please ignore the fact that I couldn’t be still. After spending more then half of my life as an obese person I’m still working on breaking my mindset that I don’t want people to focus their visual attention on me. FYI, grades were posted for this speech this morning and I lost a lot of points for my fancy footwork.)
Not only does the Plunge raise money, it also raises awareness and community spirit. I’m planning on participating again next year.
As I mentioned at the end of my speech, the Plunge may be over but the need for funding is not. Donations are still being accepted online on my Polar Bear Plunge page.
Don’t forget that 03/21 is World Down Syndrome Day, and also that it’s never too late to help Spread the Word to End the Word.