JACKSON TWP. Oh yea. They did that. Three hundred and fifty people gathered on the shore of Lake Cable to take an icy cold plunge to raise money for charity.
The lake was covered in thick ice from shore to shore, except for the portion behind the clubhouse where the Jackson Township Parks and Highway Departments used a Gradall to break the ice in the area where the jumpers would line up and run in to the frigid cold water.
It was all for the third annual Jackson Polar Bear Plunge. And, it was the largest group of jumpers so far.
The cold swim is hosted by the Jackson Local Schools Foundation (JLSF). The JLSF raises money for grants for the Jackson Local School district.
While the event raises money for the foundation, many other groups join in to raise money for their charities. The American Heart Association, Wishes Can Happen, Stark County Hunger Task Force, Be a Better Me and Amherst Elementary among many others joined in the afternoon dip to raise money to help local charities continue their good works.
Event chairman Justin Hardesty, who is also the vice president of the JLSF, said the event just keeps getting bigger.
“Last year, we had just under 300 jumpers. This year we have 350 jumpers,” Hardesty said. “We raised in excess of $30,000 in total in donations. Half of the money goes to the foundation and half gets divided up amongst the other groups here raising money. In the past three years, the foundation has given out 17 grants totaling $33,000.”
The Jackson Township Fire Department was there in case of any emergencies. The water rescue crew from the Fire Department came out in their insulated suits to break up more ice and move it out of the way and to help in case of any emergencies.
JLSF President Jim Camp led off the jump along with Jackson Local Schools Superintendent Christopher DiLoreto and School Board President Tom Winkhart. The three were the first group to jump in together. Plus, it was Camp’s birthday on Feb. 9, the day of the Polar Bear Plunge.
“I did this last year and my strategy is to wear just swimming trunks and a shirt,” Camp said. “The fewer cloths you have on, the quicker you can get them off and get dry.”
Winkhart, who was jumping for the first time, said he was using the same strategy as Camp. DiLoreto said it was his third time to jump.
“It’s really exciting to see the numbers continue to grow for the event,” DiLoreto said. “My strategy is to get wet as quickly as possible. The JLSF does a great job with the event and we appreciate their efforts and the efforts of all the non-profits taking the plunge today.”