Community members are rallying for the upcoming Polar Bear Dip, planned for Friday, March 11th at noon. Organized by the Student Senate of Washington County Community College, the Polar Bear Dip is an annual event that frequently sees hundreds of participants running headlong into the freezing waters of Passamaquoddy Bay. Each participant is supported in their efforts by donors from around the community, all of whom are contributing funds for two worthy causes: the Ronald McDonald House and Sarah’s House of Bangor.
What began as an enjoyable challenge between WCCC students has raised more than $200,000 for charitable causes over the past 16 years. Both the Ronald McDonald House and Sarah’s House provide lodging for families from all over the state who must travel or stay in the Bangor area to receive treatment for critical illnesses. Without the Ronald McDonald House or Sarah’s House, families would be forced to bear the expense of attempting to pay for extended lodging or traveling back and forth.
“We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House back in 1986 when our mom was in the hospital,” Sharon Cook shared, adding that they stayed a total of six weeks. “They were so nice to everyone who stayed there.”
“I will be forever grateful for the Ronald McDonald House and those who volunteer there,” Tammy Clark said. Clark stayed at the house for six weeks herself in 1998 when her daughter was born ten weeks early. “Coming there after spending all day until late night at the hospital was very comforting.”
With the community well aware of the importance of the respective houses, the pledges are coming in rapidly. Tess Ftorek, who has never missed a year of the dip, is approaching her personal goal of $1,000, with many others close to hitting their goals as well. Anyone who raises more than $75 will receive a sweatshirt featuring this year’s design, created by Tanika Niles.
The unusually warm winter combined with the later date of the dip this year may produce relatively tropical conditions for dippers, with early forecasts projecting sunshine and a high of nearly 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Participants will find swift relief from the “heat” in the 41 degree water.
Afterwards, all participants and observers will be able to enjoy chili prepared by the culinary students of WCCC and hot drinks from Dunkin Donuts. A portable bonfire pit crafted by the welding students will provide a place to warm the cockles. The National Guard and Passamaquoddy EMS unit will be on hand to ensure the safety of all participants.
This year’s theme is “Freezin’ for a Reason”. Participants are encouraged to wear any form of appropriate dress to accomplish their task. It will take place on March 11th at noon at Split Rock in Pleasant Point. To become a participant, stop by WCCC to pick up a sponsor form or visit www.wccc.me.edu/wp-content/uploads/pledge-sheet-for-Polar-Dip-2016.pdf. All checks should be made payable to WCCC Polar Bear Dip.