Near-freezing weather and frigid waters on Saturday weren’t enough to keep nearly 100 people from taking the plunge into Sandy Creek Park’s Lake Chapman at the seventh annual Rotary Club of Athens Plungefest.
Club president Rhett Butler called this year’s event the coldest yet, but said that it didn’t stop them from reaching their goal of raising $20,000 for local nonprofit Seed Life Skills.
“This is a fun event that brings a lot of attention not only to Rotary, but to the project we’re sponsoring as well,” Butler said. “We are thrilled with the turnout this year, and it just shows how many people want to support us and support a good cause.”
This year’s cause, Seed Life Skills, is an Athens-based organization that uses hands-on, experiential learning to teach nutrition and life skills to students.
The money raised from the polar bear plunge will help Seed Life Skills finance their spring programming, provide mini-grants to teachers, perform community food demonstrations and host a farm-to-table summer camp for kids.
“Rotary has been a great partner,” said Seed Life Skills co-founder Hugh Acheson. “It’s a really diverse, wide-spectrum group that gives back to the community in some amazing ways.”
The ability to give back to the community is just one of the benefits of taking the plunge, said Athens-Clarke County Police Officer Enrique Rivera.
“We do this together, the downtown unit, as a way to build camaraderie in our unit,” Rivera said. “It’s fun, but it’s also a way to say that we did this as a team, that we really came together.”
Wearing matching kilts and not much else, Rivera, along with the rest of his unit, were also named winners of this year’s Plungefest costume contest.
“We were going for a Braveheart thing,” officer Linton Sangster said. “It just seemed like the perfect idea this year, but I don’t think we knew how cold it was going to get.”
While the Plungefest over for this year, it’s not too late to still support Rotary’s cause. Visit athensplungefest2018.org to find out more or to donate.