BOONSBORO, Md. (WDVM) — With the recent snowfall, jumping into a lake with ice on the surface doesn’t seem like the best idea. But over 160 people dove into Greenbrier Lake in Boonsboro, Maryland, where the water temperature only reached 35 degrees, but all for a good cause.
Back for its 19th year, the Polar Bear Plunge Fundraiser asks community members and animal lovers alike to take the plunge for animals at the Humane Society of Washington County. Participants like Jill Unger came out of the water with her bangs frozen from the frigid water and even colder air temperature. Still, it was her compassion and love of animals that pushed her to the Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday afternoon.
“I have five dogs, four of which are rescues of sorts,” Unger explained. “On the way over here when I was thinking, ‘do I really want to do this?’ I thought I’m going to be in the water, maybe 10 seconds, and there’s animals out there that either are neglected or strayed that spend their whole nights out in this kind of weather.”
Participants were given the option to raise funds for a solo plunge or dive in as a group. The most recognizable group was a team from Mountain View Animal Emergency, who dressed as a pack of dalmatians. Mountain View Animal Emergency often receives animals from the HSWC shelter, and their team was ready to take the plunge to support their fellow animal care facility. Unfortunately, Erin Baker and Tiffany Nally were only able to plunge to their waists but knew that Saturday’s fundraiser was much more than a dip in the near-freezing lake.
“We get them all the time. So anytime that one comes in, that needs help, we’re definitely here for them,” Baker explained. “Animals are very important to us and so this is a life that we live by.”
Nally echoed her co-worker’s sentiments and explained that the animals must remain the focus of events like these.
“It’s a community thing too. We’re big on our culture and our community, and what better way to support that than to support the Humane Society,” Nally said.
While the funds needed to care for an animal at the Humane Society can vary, the Development and Communications Director for HSWC, Noel Fridgen, explained that every dollar makes a difference.
“The cost of care for an animal and our shelter can completely vary based on their medical needs, the length of time they spend with us, and many other factors,” Fridgen explained. “So since it can be so unpredictable and we get over 4000 animals each year, it’s extremely important to have fundraising events like this and the support from our community so that we can keep continuing to care for them.”
Before the divers hit the water here for the polar bear plunge, the event for use around $22,000, with that number expected to rise after day-of registrations as well as merchandise sales and donations on Saturday. Please visit their website for more information about the Humane Society of Washington County or donate to the shelter.