Yesterday, Saturday, January 25th, members of the Monaca Fire Department partook in the Beaver County Polar Plunge to benefit the Pennsylvania Special Olympics. While our members are used to dealing with water to fight fires in the most harsh of weathers, nothing could prepare them for the frozen Beaver River.
The team this year consisted of team captain Ken Mclaughlin, Mike Siegel, Chris Shotter, Dave McLaughlin, and Drew Snyder. The team was organized just a few weeks ago and was able to raise nearly $900. The team would like to extend a special thank you to all of those whom donated including: Angela M Stevens, Char and Dave McLaughlin, Chris Shotter & Lisa Moschak, Gene and Cheryl Rees, Jim and Tamee Lansberry, Judith Snyder, Katie McLaughlin, Cindy Bell, Pete Kappas, Theresa Gordon, Tom and Lisa Peterson, and Peterson Insurance Agency. Without your generous contributions our team would not have been able to make the impact that it did.
Team captain Ken Mclaughlin stated that his reason’s for starting a team for Monaca Fire was such, “After completing the Polar Plunge, to benefit Special Olympics, last year for Team Freedom, I believed that starting a team with members of the Monaca Fire Departments would be a good idea. It turned out to be a huge success in raising both funds and awareness for the activities that the Special Olympics participants compete in. Giving back to the community is what we do as volunteer firefighters and we wanted to show the community another way in which we support the community in a non-traditional way.”
Convincing anyone to jump into a river of freezing water is no easy task, but team captain Ken Mclaughlin was able to convince the other four people on the team to jump in with him. When asked why he partook in this year’s event, team member Mike Siegel said, “I wanted to try and raise money for such a great cause. On top of that, I wanted to give something back to the community that supports us so much.”
As if jumping into the river wasn’t insane enough, the team decided they should be like other teams and wear a “crazy outfit”. The only thing, their outfit of choice was old bunker gear that was laying around the department. Team member Chris Shotter recalled the response to their clothing choice. “People were coming up to us asking again and again if we were going to jump in our gear. They were so worried that we would sink to the bottom of the river. While that wasn’t a concern of our team, the amount of time to get our gear back off sure was.”
When asked what Drew Snyder was thinking when he jumped into the river, the only thought that came to his mind was “I hope I don’t drown in this freezing river.” Drew of course didn’t drown, but like the concerns that Chris Shotter had with getting the gear off, Drew found them to be true. “I clasped my jacket shut and as I was trying to get the wet gear off I remember seeing small amounts of ice freezing to not only my coat but the clasps as well. I couldn’t get my fingers to work right to get the clasps open.”
The team outfitted themselves with cameras and had spectators on the docks videotape and photograph them as well. The compilation of these videos and pictures is below in this year’s Polar Plunge video.
The team plans on making this an annual event for them and raising an even greater amount of funds next year. Ken Mclaughlin remarked, “We had support from friends and families in raising donations as well as cheering us on the day of the plunge! We are already looking forward to next year’s plunge and hope to see you there either as spectators or as plungers!”