The hundreds of participants in this year’s Polar Bear Plunges weren’t just dipping into the bone-chilling surf to seek some thrills. They were also doing it for a good cause.
The annual New Year’s Day event features brave souls stepping into the cold waters of several Jersey Shore beaches. This year, the plunges raised money to help victims of Superstorm Sandy as well as other local charities.
Members of the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation ran into the surf in Ocean City. The group has provided assistance to South Jersey victims of Sandy.
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“They sent us clothes within a few days and made sure we got back on our feet,” said Ken Murphy, a Superstorm Sandy victim.
“This is something I’ve done a couple years anyway just for the sake of doing it,” said Thomas Pirrone of Sicklerville, NJ. “Why not do it for a good cause?”
“It’s more than I expected, it’s absolutely terrific,” said Dale Raesly of Levittown. “Everybody should come out here and support this cause!”
Now in its 13th year, Brigantine’s Polar Bear Club supports Fisher House, which provides transportation and housing to the families of wounded military members. Many people in Brigantine were directly impacted by Sandy.
“We might have lost our personal items and our personal things,” said John Hand, a Brigantine Plunge organizer. “But we still have our arms and legs. Right now what we’re doing is for our soldiers, our men and women overseas.”
The location for this year’s plunge in Brigantine had to be changed since the beach where they normally held the event doesn’t exist anymore due to Sandy.
“From this storm, there’s no seawall left,” said Hand.
But the thrills and chills remained the same in the new location, providing a fun-filled kickoff to 2013 and hope for better things to come this year.
“It’s got to be a better year,” said Billy Bryan of Brigantine. “Let’s hope so. For everybody.”