February 28, 2011


Polar plunge goes swimmingly

Staff Reporter

Ninety people took the first ever Great Polar Bear Challenge Saturday — raising over $27,000 for the United Way of Cortland County by braving the cold and jumping into the pond at Yaman Park.
Tom Turck, who co-chaired the event with his wife, Jennifer, took the first plunge around 11 a.m. Others followed in small groups at 10-minute intervals.
“It’s a great day for it,” he said while toweling off, adding that he anticipates the event growing in the coming years, but was happy with the turnout for the first year. “It’s great to see so many people step up.”
The Cortland Regional Medical Center had 11 staff members participating, all of whom were dressed as if it was just another day at the beach.
They said they were attracted to the event because it was something new for the community, and the proceeds went to a good cause.
Ken Maxwell, who works as a nurse in the emergency room, did not seem concerned about the hazardous possibilities, such as going into shock or hypothermia.
“Just stay relaxed, be calm and have fun,” radiology nurse Michelle Card said.
The group pointed out the trained staff that was on hand, including scuba divers, members of the Cortland Police and Fire departments and emergency medical staff.
Glenn Reisweber, a member of the nighttime ski club at Lime Hollow Center for Environment and Culture called the Nordic Knights, approached the pond from a nearby hill in skis, a Hawaiian shirt and khaki shorts.
He said he had not planned his routine until about 20 minutes before when he saw the hill, and asked his wife to rush his skis to him.
“Everybody dressing up in these goofy costumes adds some spice,” Reiseweber said.
Reisweber said he has participated in polar plunges before, including at Olcott Beach in Niagara County. His advice — to not think.
“The more you think, the less likely you are to do it,” Reisweber said.
Bev and Tim Warner, of Cuyler, wore skunk and warthog hats. Tim Warner joked that he was wearing a pig hat because he would be the one with the loudest squeal once he hit the water. The couple said they had seen similar polar plunges on television, and had wanted to participate themselves.
“It’s a bucket list kind of thing, and now the chance is here,” Bev Warner said. Others costumes included clowns, 80’s rockers and toddlers.
Lena Krebs, of Homer, was dressed like an ice princess, with matching blue crown and face paint. She said she was happy to participate because of all of the services United Way provides to the community.
Krebs took a simplistic approach to taking the plunge.
“One foot in front of the other,” she said.
Pat Foote participated with other members of the William George Agency.
“I plan to just jump in and not think — full speed ahead,” he said.
Once he was out of the water, Foote was all smiles.
“It was great,” he said. “I still can’t breathe.”


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