On Sunday I jumped into Lake Ontario... on purpose!
This past Sunday, February 8th, was Rochester's annual Polar Plunge. What is the Polar Plunge you ask? The Polar Plunge is a fundraising event that relies on participants to gain donations from sponsors - with all the proceeds going to the Special Olympics. In return for these donations, those brave participants willingly run into the icy-cold water.
Being local, I had heard about Rochester's annual Polar Plunge. I always thought those people were crazy... but something deep down inside of me wanted to do it. This year, I heard that two of the Greek organizations on campus were organizing a RIT team. I decided from the moment I heard about it, that I was going to do it. I became a captain and encouraged my own sorority sisters and friends to join me. I am so proud to say that RIT was the top fundraising team, and actually set Polar Plunge history as the highest fundraising team EVER. We raised over $24,000!!!!
After months of looking forward to the plunge, I couldn't believe it was finally here. I also couldn't believe that I was about to jump into a lake, in the middle of winter....
This is my experience:
We left RIT around 9:30am, and headed to Ontario Beach Park in Charlotte. It took four school buses to get our team to the actual Plunge site. After registering, we all headed to the VIP tent (benefits of being the top team). The temperature was in the 20s, but luckily there were heaters stationed throughout the tents. As the time got closer and closer to the Plunge, we started removing layers and preparing for the cold. A little before 12pm, we all headed to the party tent, from which we would then run out on the "beach" (snow tundra) and then into the water.
The plunge itself was at 12pm. It was the fastest, coldest thing I've ever done. We ran out of the party tent and jogged up to the edge of the water pit. They had taken some bulldozers and broken up the ice and formed a nice little pit for us to jump in (yeah, they actually needed to break up the ice for us). Then we were sent in waves into the water. One group would go, then another, then another, and then suddenly you're next. When my wave was called, I just headed straight into the water without thinking. It was like walking through a giant slushy that wasn't blended well enough. There were chunks of ice everywhere, making it somewhat hard to move.
Less than 30 seconds after entering the water, I'm already on my way out and heading for the tent. I grabbed a free towel from a volunteer and tried to wipe the water off my legs, but I was so numb that I couldn't tell if it was working. Within another 2 minutes, I threw on all the extra dry layers I had packed. It felt so nice to be warm again. 10 minutes later the RIT team packed up and headed for the buses. On the way back, we stopped for free calzones, courtesy of D.P. Dough's (in support of the polar plunge). By 2:40pm we were back on campus.
Despite the udder cold and freezing temperatures, I actually had a lot of fun and plan on doing it again next year.