2007 Annual Polar Bear Plunge

This marks my fourth year plunging into the icy Atlantic Ocean waters to help raise money for the New Jersey Special Olympics. The Polar Bear Plunge was held on February 24th in Seaside Heights near the Aztec Ocean Resort. I joined a team of fourteen others from my karate training group for the plunge. Together we raised $2,195.00 – Team Page.

The water temperature was 33 degrees this year — the coldest water I’ve personally experienced. Last year the water was a mild 37 degrees and there was snow on the beach. Unfortunately we didn’t have snow on the beach this year; a rain storm cleaned up all the snow a few days before the plunge.

I jumped in four times; one or two times just isn’t enough. During the fourth trip in, I was starting to get comfortable in the water while waiting for my friend Gary Grainger to snap a good picture. In all honesty, my body was probably too numb at that point to react in survival mode. I recall my first year doing the plunge – once my feet were in the water I realized it was very cold but pressed on. At waist level, I started seriously considering an about face. At mid-chest level my survival instincts kicked in and every ounce of my being wanted to get out, but still I persisted. Finally, at neck level it felt like my chest was caving in and I literally could not breathe. I suppose it’s the contraction of the lungs from the cold and the water pressure which makes breathing very difficult. Both mind and body are fighting to get out — this is where spirit takes over. It is similar to the classic adage “mind over body”, but in this case I have a new saying: “spirit over mind and body.”

SONJ raised 640,000 dollars this year and there were about 2,800 plungers in Seaside Heights, NJ. The Polar Bear Plunge is the largest fundraising effort benefiting Special Olympics New Jersey in the state. Participants collect pledges and plunge into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. All proceeds collected by Plungers benefit Special Olympics athletes and help foster mission of the Special Olympics New Jersey.

Thanks so much to my friends who donated to SONJ: Tom, Saundra, Gary, Tricia, Ralph, Cielo, Vitali, Jim & Vicki, Zubair, and my other friends who want to remain anonymous. Check out their names on the honor roll, located on my SONJ donation page.

The plunge was a blast, as usual! I’m already looking forward to next year. I’m hoping for snow next time though.


Leave a Reply