11th Annual Polar Bear Plunge Planned For Blue Bend - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

11th Annual Polar Bear Plunge Planned For Blue Bend


LEWISBURG (WV)  -  Organizers of the 11th Annual Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge Club say the charity event for the non-profit Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg is set for Saturday, March 8, beginning at 1 p.m at the Blue Bend Recreation Area  in the Monongahela National Forest.

     Last year, Governor Early Ray Tomblin proclaimed the event a "special West Virginia tradition," and the plunge was also named a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 event for 2014.
      Since 2001,  23o fearless individuals have earned their polar bear membership cards by plunging into the icy waters of Anthony Creek. Last year, 131 kindred spirits helped to raise awareness about child abuse, and the event raised nearly $18,000 for the non-profit Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg. The CYAC interviews and counsels sexually abused children in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Pocahontas  counties and aids in the prosecution of sex offenders. As always, 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to the CYAC.
    Club members from all across West Virginia and seven separate states, including Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio, have plunged at Blue Bend where water temperatures average about 36 degrees in March.  
    "The psychological fear of the cold water is much greater than actually going in," Polar Bear Club President and Founder Christian M. Giggenbach, who has plunged in all 10 previous events, said. "But that pales in comparison to the fear that sexually abused children in our area live with every moment of the day. We all jump in to help protect those innocent children."
      New this year will be a flyover by stunt pilot Scott Yoak in his World War II vintage Quick Silver P-51D Mustang. After the plunge, the Half Bad Bluegrass band will entertain in the large shelter in the campground. Many plungers also dress up in their favorite G-rated costumes to win prizes.
     Currently, polar bears are roaming the area seeking plunge sponsorships. Businesses may be listed on Polar Bear T-shirts and in the program guide. Plungers who raise at least $25 will receive a polar bear T-shirt. Fundraising packets can be picked up at the CYAC, Little Black Box Lingerie in Lewisburg, or online at www.facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear. Call 304-645-4668 for more details.
    "We are deeply appreciative for the plungers, pledgers, businesses and volunteers who make the polar bear plunge a reality,"  CYAC Executive Director Ann Weikle said. "Please bring your kids and the whole family to watch the fun and sponsor a plunger."
    The event also includes club members singing the "Ode to Polar Bear" song, the Polar Bear Spirit Award presentation and a giant American Flag hung from the swinging bridge. Past plungers  have included Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester, Greenbrier County Sheriff Jan Cahill and retired Navy Rear Admiral Jay Bowling. Plungers are asked to report to the event before noon.
    Each year, planners apply for a special use permit from the U.S. National Forest Service which allows the event to occur on federally-owned land.
    The Polar Bear Plunge was originally created as a tribute to the club president's late mother, Kay Sweet Giggenbach, who would have been overjoyed at the sight of seeing everyone run into Anthony Creek in such freezing water.
    The CYAC's mission is to end child abuse in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Pocahontas counties.
For more information about the plunge or how you can volunteer, visit facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear.
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