Warm hearts helped to offset temperatures still well below freezing Sunday at Eagles Aerie 2051’s 7th Annual Polar Plunge.
This year the event benefited the Northern Ohio Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
More than 50 brave divers took a dip in ice-cold water before warming back up near an open fire and enjoying a much needed hot meal. Wellington firefighters were on hand to ensure safety and guide participants.
“We started doing this at the lake in Lorain years ago,” said event organizer Chris Starbuck after taking a dive herself. “The water stings a little but it’s fun and well worth it. It doesn’t sting when you get in but it is a shock.”
Roughly $1,500 was raised Sunday.
“To be honest, when we did this the last time it was really windy,” said Jamie Martin, whose residence on Pitts Road has hosted the plunge for the past two years. “That wind was just the worst. You got out of the water and it felt like your skin was on fire. It’s a lot better to be able to stand around a fire like we’re doing today.
Cystic fibrosis, or CF, affects the lungs, intestine, liver, kidneys, and pancreas with no known cure. Most recent estimates for median life expectancy in the United States are just 37 for women and 40 for men.
Signs of CF in children include poor growth, lack of weight gain with normal food intake, salty-tasting skin, mucus buildup, regular chest infections, and coughing or shortness of breath. Newborn babies will often suffer bowel obstruction.
Even through the discomfort of hitting the water, the divers recognized the fortune of being able-bodied and capable of raising funds through such a strenuous activity.
“If you can do things other people can’t do, why not use that to help out?” asked Martin. “Maybe one day one of us will need a fundraiser like this. It’s like donating blood.”
“We just bring our crazy friends out and check off a lot of peoples’ bucket lists,” Starbuck said. “When you think about the reasons behind today, it makes it all worth it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.