By LINDSAY CAREY
The Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs are holding the 10th annual YMCA Polar Plunge on Sat. Jan. 17 at the YMCA Camp Sloper Outdoor Center.
The Polar Plunge will support the YMCA Annual Campaign, which helps a few key areas at the YMCA. This includes the outreach program, membership and childcare assistance, teen programs at the YMCA and camp scholarship for Camp Sloper.
“This is our biggest fundraiser for camp scholarships at Sloper,” said Outdoor Center director at Camp Sloper Mark Pooler.
Pooler said the Polar Plunge typically attracts between 100 to 150 plungers and then another 200-plus spectators.
Many of the teams of plungers represent several community groups and town organizations. Team YMCA will be led by Pooler and executive director of the Southington YMCA, John Myers.
“This is my 10th year plunging, so I know what to expect,” said Pooler. “The most exciting part for me is seeing the first time plungers. There’s definitely anticipation in the air, but at the same time everyone is super excited and super passionate about the cause that it’s going to.”
Other teams participating in the event include: Team Southington Police Department led by Police Chief Jack Daly; Team Southington Fire Department led by Firefighter Bob Hunt; Team Board of Ed. led by BOE Chairman Brian Goralski, SHS Principal Martin Semmel, and Superintendent Timothy Connellan; Team Southington Politicians led by Town Council Chairman Michael Riccio and former Town Councilor Al Natelli; Team Calvanese Foundation led by foundation member Lauren Forgione and Back 9 staff member Don Jenkins, Team Southington led by Recreation Director David Lapreay; and Team Lake Compounce led by General Manager Jerry Brick.
“The reason we’re able to get so much support and that’s the cause,” said Pooler. “I think everyone who chooses to participate has a good understanding of what a summer cap experience does for a child and that’s what we’re trying to provide, an experience for every child in Southington.”
Pooler said the ninth YMCA Polar Plunge last year raised $28,000. The YMCA is typically able to offer about $40,000 to $50,000 of assistance for camp scholarships.
“We would like to eclipse the $30,000 mark this year,” said Pooler. “Being able to take care of $30,000 of that would take care of a huge piece of our fundraising efforts.”
This year’s feature team is Milestones for Melanie, which is a memorial team for the late Melanie Rossini, who suddenly passed away at the age of 20 from a lung embolism.
Rossini had a strong family connection to the YMCA. Her mother Lynn Rossini was a former director of membership and marketing at the YMCA.
“She and her sisters, they grew up at the Y and she would’ve totally embraced this type of event,” said Pooler. “The fact that we’re able to commemorate her five years after her passing is a wonderful gesture.”
Milestones for Melanie will be led by her mother Lynn Rossini and sisters Katie and Lisa Rossini.
Those wishing to participate in the plunge this year must be at least 18 years of age and need to obtain a sponsorship totaling a minimum of $100 per plunger that will be submitted at the time of registration on Jan. 17. Checks may be made payable to the Southington Community YMCA. In addition, all plungers must have signed a waiver form before plunging.
Preregistration is also mandatory and plungers are expected to pre-register with one of the team captains by handing an enclosed pledge form to the team captain or mail to Mark Pooler, YMCA Camp Sloper, 29 High St., Southington, CT 06489.
“It’s overwhelming and so heartwarming, the support we receive,” said Pooler. “This is one of my favorite events of the year because it brings everyone together and shows what makes Southington great. It’s a town that is always willing to lend a hand to people in our community who need it most.”
For more information about taking the plunge, contact Pooler at (860)621-8194 ext. 304 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.