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January 29, 2014

Polar plunge auction raises $7K for ill children

By Jessica Reynolds Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — More than $7,100 was raised Sunday at the annual Polar Bear Jump Auction held at Milford Central School. This is just a portion of the funds that will be donated to seven local, terminally ill children this year.

Jamie Waters, who organizes the annual fundraiser with his wife, Brenda, said more than 250 people have signed up to make the jump at the 19th Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump on Feb. 15. Waters said there were more than 400 jumpers last year, and he expects a similar number this year.

Waters said there was a “great turnout” at the auction, with more than 250 people showing up to take part. The auction’s proceeds, along with funds raised by jumpers, will go toward seven local children with terminal illnesses, as well as a local woman suffering from autoimmune disease, Catskill Area Hospice, the Milford Fire Department, and the Portlandville Methodist Church. Waters said several past recipients and some from this year were at the auction.

One of the children benefiting from this year’s Polar Bear Plunge is Myles Magnan, a 3-year-old who lives with his mom, Lisa Magnan, in Bloomville. According to the event website, before Myles was born, it was discovered that he had hydrocephalus, meaning the fluid in his brain was not properly draining. Because of this condition, the anatomy of Myles’ brain was altered, and he was diagnosed with a partial deletion of chromosome six. Magnan said Myles has bravely soldiered through numerous surgeries, seizures, extended hospital stays and continuous struggles with his mobility and communication.

“We were so overwhelmed to find out Myles was a recipient,” Magnan said. “We feel totally blessed. What an awesome way to pay it forward.”

Magnan said the money received from the Polar Bear Plunge will go in Myles’ savings account, and be set aside for any of his future health needs. Myles is due for new braces, Magnan said, and he may need a special car seat or walker in the future. She said the funds will go toward these and other health expenses.

Magnan said her husband was planning on participating in the Polar Bear Jump this year, but is currently serving in the military in Antarctica. She said she decided to jump in her husband’s place, along with several of Myles’ uncles. Magnan said this will be her first jump, but she will be accompanied by a group of 11 other friends and family members.

Carter Hilton, of North Franklin, is another young boy who will be helped by this year’s event. Carter’s mother, Elizabeth Hilton, called her son “a miracle;” he was born at 32 weeks after a complicated pregnancy.

Hilton said Carter was born with severe bilateral congenital talipes, commonly known as club feet. She said her son has already undergone five surgeries, with the most recent surgery leaving him in a wheelchair for several months while he heals. He also suffers from asthma and a heart murmur, but is an “amazingly strong little boy with big possibilities,” his mother said.

Hilton said she was honored and thrilled to learn that Carter was a recipient of this year’s fundraiser, and that she plans to bring Carter to the jump, as long as it’s not too cold. She said she knows of several individuals who will jump in support of her son.

Logan Piefer, a 10-year-old from Oneonta, was diagnosed with Hunter Syndrome at 15 months. Hunter Syndrome is a progressive and degenerative genetic disease that attacks the entire body, said Logan’s father, Andrew Piefer. Piefer said although Logan learned to walk, talk and play normally, he progressively lost these skills as he grew older. Logan can no longer talk and is fed through a feeding tube. He is losing the ability to walk and will soon be fully dependent on his wheelchair, Piefer said.

Piefer said the family was “honored and touched” to learn that Logan was one of this year’s recipients. Despite all of his challenges, Piefer said, Logan is very happy and loves interacting with other people at school and the park.

“It’s difficult to take Logan in and out of his car seat,” Piefer said. “We will use the money to put a down payment on a wheelchair van.”

Waters said last year’s recipients each received $13,850. This year’s recipients will be presented with checks at the annual banquet after the jump at 6:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Oneonta. Waters said his whole family, including his four children, will jump at this year’s event. 

The other children receiving funds this year are Devin James Carey, an 8-month-old boy with leukemia; Dax Coe, a 4-year-old boy with a heart murmur; Isabelle “Tinker” Ewing, a 10-year-old girl who had an arteriovenous malformation rupture in her brain; and Charles Oakley, a 5-year-old boy with cerebral palsy and autism.

Waters said the most important thing is to gain exposure for the families and children and raise as much money as possible for them.

“I went into a store the other day with fliers for the event,” Waters said. “The woman up front asked what it was all about and I said, ‘we jump in the water for these kids,’ and showed her their pictures. As soon as she saw their faces, she said ‘I have to help. I want to jump,’” Waters said. “And now she’s signed up.”

For more information regarding recipients, registration, or how to become a sponsor, visit http://pbjump.com/index.html.