Polar Bear Club celebrates 15 years of Freezin’ for a Reason

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Club members wait for their turn to plunge into the Greenbrier River at last year’s event held in Ronceverte: Walker Dent (left), Hannah Rivoire, Greenbrier County Judge Jennifer Dent, Greenbrier County Asstistant Prosecutor Ryan Blake, and Senator Stephen Baldwin.

Organizers of the 15th Annual Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge Club say the popular charity event is set for Saturday, Mar. 10, and will be held at  the Ronceverte Island Park.

For the second year in-a-row, the club’s original meeting site cannot be used due to damage caused by the historic 2016 floods. In the previous 13 events, club members plunged into Anthony Creek located at the Blue Bend Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest. This year, club members will be going into the Greenbrier River as they raise funds for the Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg.

“I’m happy as can be to bring our annual club meeting back to the Ronceverte Island Park, said Greenbrier Polar Bear President Christian Giggenbach. “Last year when we needed it the most, the City of Ronceverte opened their arms wide and gave us a great big hug. Ronceverte really made us feel welcome. I especially want to thank the city’s Maintenance Department, the Ronceverte Police Department, the Ronceverte Fire Department, Greenbrier County Homeland Security, Greenbrier County Emergency Ambulance Service and Healthnet Aeromedical Services for helping us put on the plunge and keeping the event safe.”

Over 400 fearless individuals have earned their polar bear membership cards in the 15-year history of the club. Club members from all across West Virginia and seven separate states, including Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio, have plunged. In 2013, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin proclaimed the event a “special West Virginia tradition,” and the plunge was also named a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 event for 2014.  Many plungers also dress up in their favorite family friendly costumes to win prizes.

Past notable plungers include Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Dent, State Senator Stephen Baldwin, Lewisburg Mayor John Manchester, State Police Superintendent Col. Jan Cahill, retired Navy Rear Admiral Jay Bowling, several WVVA TV reporters and Reality TV Star Mark Bowe.

Last year the club raised $19,000 and since 2005, over $100,000 has been raised for the 501(c)3 nonprofit Child and Youth Advocacy Center. As always, 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to the organization that interviews and counsels sexually abused children in Greenbrier, Monroe, and Pocahontas  counties and aids in the prosecution of sex offenders.

“We want to thank all the plungers, sponsors and volunteers who help to combat child abuse in our area,” CYAC Executive Director and Polar Bear Member Kat Thompson said. “We are proud of our association with the Polar Bear Club and look forward to seeing everyone again this year.

Currently, Polar Bears are roaming the area seeking plunge sponsorships. Businesses may be listed on our Polar Bear T-shirts and in the program guide. Plungers who raise at least $25 will receive a T-shirt. Fundraising packets can be picked up at the CYAC or Little Black Box in Lewisburg. Contact the CYAC at 304 645 4668 or visit facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear.