K–W takes the plunge

People gathered in the Uptown Waterloo public square to show their support for the Polar Plunge. (Photo by Kate Turner)

People gathered in the Uptown Waterloo public square to show their support for the Polar Plunge. (Photo by Kate Turner)

“There’s nothing like publically embarrassing yourself for a cause,” joked Laura Geddis minutes before plunging into an icy pool of water in Uptown Waterloo public square.

Geddis was participating in the second annual Polar Plunge, a fundraiser which took place on Jan. 26 to support local organization KidsAbility, which helps children with special needs. Approximately 50 participants lined up in groups and took turns belly-flopping, leaping and cannon-balling into the pool in spite of the minus ten degree weather.

The event began last year as a small initiative by two community members. An impressive response encouraged them to bring it back.

“Last year it was just a small idea, we thought it’d be something cool and crazy to do. We had a tremendous response to it … so when we finished the event we knew that we had to have a second annual event and make things bigger and better,” explained co-organizer Robb Farago.

For him, this year’s turnout and fundraising efforts exceeded expectations.

“We set our goal for $5000. We thought even that was a little lofty, seeing how we raised $1000 last year. We hit our goal something like four days ago before the event, in the last day or two we raised another thousand dollars,” he said.

Though Farago doesn’t work for KidsAbility, he acknowledged the importance of the cause.

“We picked KidsAbility because we love the charity,” he expressed. “They’ve actually changed a lot of lives, touched a lot of lives and it seems like one of those worthwhile causes that everyone can get behind.”

The event drew a large crowd to the square, with tens of people coming out to cheer on the participants and enjoy the other festivities, including balloon animal making and an acapella singing group.

Though she had no personal connection to the organization, Elle Dee, who works for local radio station and event sponsor Kool 105.3, stepped up to be one of the first plungers and managed to raised over $300 after seeing it on Twitter.

After taking a tour of KidsAbility, Dee was astonished by the dedication she saw.

“The people who work there, they’re so passionate about helping these kids. It was amazing,” she said.

Few know more about the importance of funding KidsAbility services than Waterloo resident Lana Jones, whose daughter Zhade was born with cerebral palsy.

“Since she came out of the hospital when she was born, KidsAbility has been there for her and until she turns 18, they can support her,” Jones said. “They’re integral to her life.”

Zhade, now 17-years-old, is this year’s KidsAbility ambassador.

Expressing her appreciation for the event, Jones commented, “The funds are so important. However people choose to get together and celebrate and to do good is fabulous.”
Donations raised before the event were set at $6,084.

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