By Ed Harris
Every year, Mark Pooler is often the last man to leave the frigid waters of Sloper Pond during the YMCA’s annual Polar Plunge. For the past seven years, Pooler has spent approx. 75 seconds in the water, racking up the donations.
“We pledge by seconds,” said Pooler, the Outdoor Center director at YMCA Camp Sloper. “So the longer we are in, the more money we raise.”
Pooler specifically stays around the 75 second mark to avoid any potential health issues arising from staying in the ice cold water too long. He tries to stay warm by running around to keep the blood flowing and he gets pumped up by the large crowds that come to cheer on the plungers.
“It’s cold, but it is what it is,” Pooler said about the mid-January dip in Sloper Pond.
The Eighth Annual Polar Plunge will take place on Saturday, January 19 at 1 p.m. at YMCA Camp Sloper, in the icy waters of Sloper Pond.
All funds from this event will be donated to provide financial assistance to help send children and teens to YMCA Camp Sloper this summer.
The teams this year will include the Southington Fire Department led by Fireman Bob Hunt and the Southington Board of Education led by Superintendent Dr. Joe Erardi, Board of Education Chair Brian Goralski and High School Teacher Bob Lasbury. In addition, the Southington Politicians Team under the leadership of Mike Riccio and Dr. Al Nateli, and the Calvanese Foundation Team under the leadership of Foundation Board Member Lauren Forgione, Alyssa Calvanese and Aqua Turf Maitre d’ Donny Jenkins will return again in 2013. Team Southington, joins the action for the second year in a row and is led once again by Town manager Garry Brumback. The Southington Community YMCA will have a team too, led by Pooler and Executive Director John Myers.
Last year, 80 plungers jumped into Sloper Pond, marking the first year that the plunge was held amidst snowy conditions.
Brumback, who is taking his second dip this year, said the plunge was for a great cause and that he believed it took more courage to say no to jumping into Sloper than it does for saying yes.
“It really is for the kids,” Brumback said. “It’s well worth the ten minutes of agony.”
The Feature Team for 2013 will be ‘Team Lake Compounce’ led by Compounce General Manager Jerry Brick. Team Lake Compounce will be made up of employees and friends that want to join the cause.
“We are excited to be a part of a great community tradition that will help kids in our great town of Southington,” stated Brick in a release. “It is a privilege to help kids in our community and we are delighted to be part of that effort.”
Anyone interested in taking the plunge this year should contact Mark Pooler at 860-621-8194 x 304. Each plunger must raise a minimum goal of $100 to plunge, must be at least 18 years old, and be part of a team.
Team YMCA and Team Southington are always looking for new plungers and happy to have any brave souls join in on the fun.
“We’re still accepting brave plungers,” Pooler said.
Sponsorship opportunities are available again this year. Business or families who would like to support this event through sponsorship should contact Donna Ayer at the YMCA for more information at 860-628-5597. Polar Plunge banner sponsorships are $250 each.
“There is nothing better in this world than seeing a child with a smile on their face, and YMCA Camp Sloper does this each and every day,” said Bob Lasbury, Southington High School Teacher and Boys Basketball Coach, who will be taking the Polar Plunge for the fifth time in 2012, according to a release. “I am proud to be a part of a great cause like this and it really is a lot of fun.”
The Polar Plunge is set for Saturday, Jan. 19 1 p.m.