Organizers of the 16th Annual Greenbrier Polar Bear Club say the popular charity event is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, Mar. 9, and will be held at the Ronceverte Island Park.
For the third year in a row, club members will raise funds for the Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg by splashing down in the Greenbrier River instead of their old meeting site at Blue Bend in the Monongahela National Forest.
Due to the government shutdown, club officials could not file for the mandatory safety permits required to hold the event on federally owned land. Additionally, forest officials said a gravel ramp on the newly constructed foot bridge leading to the large stone beach where spectators gather was damaged during a recent flood.
“I believe there was a good chance the ramp could have been repaired, but now we have run out of time. We had already committed to hold the event in Ronceverte prior to the end of the shutdown. We begin planning for the event in late November. It’s important to keep a tight schedule when competing for fundraising dollars if you want longevity,” said Greenbrier Polar Bear President Christian Giggenbach. “We made it to number 16 and I want to keep going. We also agreed to hold plunge events in the river city for the years 2021 and 2023. I am really upbeat about the Ronceverte plunge venue and its potential to bring in more club members and money for the CYAC.”
Last year the club raised $23,000, and since 2005 over $120,000 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,” said CYAC Executive Director Staci Russell-Teaney. “It’s a great family event and we invite everyone to come out and watch the Polar Bears.”
Nearly 500 fearless individuals have earned their polar bear membership cards in the 16-year history of the club. Club members from all across West Virginia and seven other 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 Greenbrier County 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.
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/greenbrierpolarbear for more information.