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February 15, 2013

Hundreds expected to take polar plunge

By Michelle Miller
The Daily Star

---- — More than 300 people are signed up to plunge into the icy-cold water of Goodyear Lake on Saturday.

Jumpers will begin diving into a rectangular hole in the ice at 12:30 p.m. Festivities are held on the north side of the Goodyear Lake dam off of state Route 28 and parking is provided on the east side of the lake.

Some say they do it for the adrenaline rush or for the thrill, but most say they do it because it is for a good cause. Many participants come back year after year to endure the frigid temperatures for a good cause.

“Once most do it,” said event organizer Brenda Waters, “they are usually hooked.”

The fundraiser began when Waters and her husband, Jamie, attended a hospital fundraiser held on the St. Lawrence Seaway, where Jamie joined friends in jumping into the cold water to raise money for the cause. After that experience, the couple decided to begin their own version of the event in support of their church, the Portlandville Methodist Church.

The church continues to be a recipient of funds raised, but the Waters have included six local children with medical needs on the list. Catskill Area Hospice and the Milford Fire Department also receive funds.

The first jump started in 1996 with 11 participants who jumped for fun. Last year’s event brought in more than $100,000, the most money since the jump’s inception, according to organizers. Jamie Waters said jump proceeds have averaged just over $80,000 the past few years.

Festivities do not end once the jump is completed. A banquet, which includes an awards ceremony and check presentation, will be held at about 6:30 p.m. at the Elks Lodge in Oneonta and is open to everyone. The buffet will be open at 3:30 p.m. Jumpers raising more than $100 eat for free, other adults are $8 and those 12 and younger are $5.