February is known for the remaining chilliest days of winter, 50 percent off chocolate after Valentine’s Day, and the occasional leap day. But last week, on Feb. 22, The University of New Haven Ski and Snowboard club gave a new meaning to this month.
It was an unusually warm Saturday afternoon, and a line of cars was making their way to the beach. Some sand and snow, but all blue skies and blue waters awaited eager students. Naming their fundraiser The Penguin Plunge, UNH’s Ski and Snowboard club hoped to raise money for Autism Speaks. Rather than sitting in Bartels with baked goods (although there’s nothing wrong with cookies) this fundraiser intrigued thrill-seeking students.
For those unaware, calling an event a “plunge” in the dead of winter, weather it be polar bear or penguin oriented, implies immersion into cold water. That’s just what dozens of UNH students did last weekend in the Long Island Sound, raising over 700 dollars for the cause.
The Ski and Snowboard club recently decided on having a group to donate to every year. “We felt that we ought to do a fundraiser because we had the resources and manpower to do so,” said Vice President Justin Bussell.
Treasurer Jennifer Dean then researched some causes and came across Autism Speaks. President Brandon Beaudoin said, “I agreed because my best friend’s brother is autistic and I wanted to help.”
At the start, all participating teams individually ran into the water, their shrieks and laughter following suit. Delta Chi went first, racing as if they had nothing better to do than to be in the water in February. Delta Phi Epsilon was the next team to go in, each girl donning a neon coloured tutu.
“I’m proud to say I was apart of an event that helped in raising about 700 dollars… my three minutes of discomfort was definitely worth it,” says Brianna Trudell, a member of Delta Phi Epsilon’s team.
Chi Kappa Ro along with the Ski and Snowboard club went afterwards, as well as some single participants.
The only non-organizational team was named YOPO (You Only Plunge Once), and the team name does hold true after the experience.
“It was super cold but a lot of fun, crazy but for a good cause,” said junior Oriana Flagello, and sophomore Josh Howard said “I hope to do it again next year and actually dive in.”
After everyone made their way out of the water, the first stop was a roaring fire pit, and then a table for free food from the generous donors of Texas Roadhouse. Cheesy ziti, warm rolls, salad, and six pounds of pulled pork was good motivation for running into cold waters, as was hot chocolate.
Afterwards, the winners were announced. Delta Phi Epsilon got most spirited team, and Delta Chi was runner-up. These teams got decorated mugs in honor of the first annual Penguin Plunge. Other prizes were also raffled off, such as two tickets to a Yankees game, and signed posters by several baseball stars.
Whether it was the adrenaline, the music, or just the abrupt freezing cold, everyone was chattering and gathering around the fire, long after the plunge was over. “I was pleased to see how well attended it was and happy to know that all the money was going to a great cause,” said sophomore Samantha Jones.
Beaudoin was thrilled with the plunge’s success. “The turnout was unbelievable. I couldn’t ask for more from the community and school.”
Bussell agreed, “It shows that our campus community truly cares about helping others…they are willing to donate money and running into the freezing cold water in the middle of winter.”
The Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, Nancy Wyman, even gave the Ski and Snowboard Club a certificate for their dedication. This organization is shifting from almost extinct on campus to becoming a force to be reckoned with. Congratulations to all who created an event bigger than just our school community.