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Freezing for charities

By: Victoria Pan

Nearly 100 people plunged into 42-degree water this past New Years' Day. Photo courtesy of Google Images

Most people from all over the world celebrate their New Years’ Eve with fireworks.  In Taiwan, Taipei 101, the second tallest building in the world, is lit in one breathtaking firework show.  In Russia, fireworks are also lit and champagne is a tradition. In Key West, Florida, as the people countdown from ten, a drag queen in a big high heel shoe is lowered from a building and finally greeted by an explosion of fireworks. However, in Lake Norman, Charlotte, about 100 people started their New Year this year by bravely jumping into 42-degree water.

Brett Thomas, one of the many courageous souls, had on a feathered helmet, lace up sandals and a pair of Elvis-in-Vegas sunglasses for his plunge into the lake. Many others accompanied him that afternoon on New Years’ Day for the Polar Bear Plunge at The Point Lake and Golf Club. They weren’t jumping into freezing water because of complete insanity. Each person who was daring enough to plunge into the lake donated $100 to the non-profit Hope at the Point Foundation. This foundation then gave out money to the Mooresville Soup Kitchen, a Christian organization whose mission is to provide food to those who are in need, and a local charity called Stop Child Abuse Now. “It’s for a good cause,” Thomas said.

Though jumping into 42-degree water is an adventurous undertaking, the plungers made sure they had fun doing it. They wore everything ranging from prison stripes to medieval chainmail, also in hopes of winning the costume contest.  “We are so thankful that these people are crazy enough to jump in the water,” Jody Schwandt, executive director of the soup kitchen, said. Thomas’s wife, Brooke, wore a “Happy New Year” cowboy hat and spray painted a purple “2011” on her husband’s back. Thomas claimed that his costume was his wife’s idea, taking old Halloween costumes and mixing them together. He won the costume contest.

This exciting event was for all ages. 10-year-old Sara Pross wore a bathing suit with a peace sign when she boldly made her donation consisting of mostly one-dollar bills. “I heard it was for a charity, so I saved up my money,” she said. Some of her savings came from birthday money and some came from doing chores at home. After jumping into the lake, many of the people were traumatized by the chilly water. “Oh, my God, that is cold!” Thomas said. “Freezing,” Pross said. “I couldn’t feel my toes.”

This “daredevil” event has increased profit for charity each year. $7,000 was raised in 2010. This year, Michael Watson, the event organizer, expects it to reach at least $15,000.

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