“We held it two years ago on the coldest day of the winter of 2012,” said Patty Eagar, Advocates for Children’s president and CEO. “And we brought it back because it was fun and people were asking about it. It’s just different. It brings out different people than would attend our Spring Benefit or most of our other events. We would have actually ... [held] it again last year except that last year, 2013, Dellinger Park was refurbishing the pool, so it wasn’t an option for us.
“It’s a quick event [that is] fun, really fun for spectators. Each of the jumpers has raised money for Advocates and they each wear a costume. So that’s really what is the most fun thing to do is to see the creativity that they have gone to to plan their costume and sometimes the elaborateness of their jump. They can jump off the edge. They can jump off the boxes that the kids use in swim meets. They can jump off the diving board. And they do all of those things. Then they get out of the water as fast as they can, because it’s cold.”
Bearing the theme “Freezin’ for a Reason,” the Polar Plunge will start at 10 a.m. at Dellinger Park’s outdoor swimming pool. During the event, the participants will be evaluated, with prizes — ranging from an iPod to a kayak — presented for Best Costume, Best Jump, Most Money Raised and Best Overall Plunger.
“We’re the coordinators of it and we currently have five [people who will jump] in that cold, cold pool,” said Plant Bowen’s Plant Services Team Leader Angie Barnette, referring to Plant Bowen. “We’ve had a great response from some vendors that work at Plant Bowen, some contractors about sponsoring also.
“We have three levels of sponsorship,” she said, adding sponsorship amounts are $250, $500 and $1,000. “... Right now we’ve got about 16 jumpers and we’re looking for more.... [We believe] it’s just really important [to support Advocates]. This organization is just vital to the community.”
To enter the Polar Plunge, adults need to collect at least $100 prior to the benefit and students must raise $50. Since about 55 percent of Advocates’ annual $1.7 million budget is raised by the local community, benefits like the Polar Plunge are integral to the nonprofit’s operations.
“The money that we raise for this just goes into the general operating budget of Advocates,” Eagar said. “We have an enormous number of kids and families that we help every year and every one of the programs that we offer requires staff and therefore we have to pay for all these programs in order to serve 2,600 kids every single year.
“This helps to raise the money that we need. ... About half of our budget this year, maybe even a little bit more than half of our budget, comes from private sources like this — like events and corporate partners and event sponsors and tickets to our various events. There’s no cost to attend [the Polar Plunge] if you’re just going to be a spectator, but all of the money raised from buying hot chocolate and all that good stuff will go into our general operating budget.”
Through her work with Advocates, Eagar continually sees the demand for the organization’s array of services.
“We have never had the children’s shelter as full as we had it in 2013,” Eagar said. “We keep increasing the number of kids that we serve. Our parenting program, which began in 2013 and is growing like gangbusters, will probably serve a couple hundred kids this year and it didn’t exist really at this time last year.
“So we keep trying to help kids earlier and earlier, help families prevent child abuse wherever we can rather than wait until they’re already the victims. But if they are already the victims, we’ll do intensive help for those kids and their families as well.”
For more information about Advocates or its Polar Plunge, call 770-387-1143 or visit www.advochild.org.