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Polar Plunge brings in at least $43,237

by on December 07, 2017 11:59 AM

RUSH TOWNSHIP — Sheets of ice crusted parts of the swimming area of Black Moshannon State Park the morning of the 2017 Polar Plunge on Dec. 2.

Enthusiasm was still high among the 125 plungers, who had worked to raise $43,237 for the YMCA of Centre County’s Backpack Weekend Food and Open Doors programs.

The Backpack program provides food for students to eat on weekends when they don’t have access to a school lunch. It serves more than 1,000 students in seven school districts. Open Doors provides financial assistance to those looking to join the YMCA but are unable to pay the costs. It served more than 2,400 people in Centre County in 2017.

Liz Toukonen, executive director at the Y and plunge organizer, said the total number of plungers was up slightly this year, and about the same amount of money was raised. She said it's likely the total amount raised will approach $50,000 as the final numbers roll in.

“It was a fun community event,” Toukonen said. “It was fun to see so many spectators there.”

Fortunately for the participants, helpers with waders and cold-weather swim gear broke up the ice before the herd of plungers hustled across the beach — then hustled even faster back to their cars and heated changing rooms.

The plunge is serious business for some, with group and individual costumed participants crashing through the frigid waters.

The best costume award went to the State College Young Professionals, who also took the title of most money raised by a team with $3,602. The “most seasoned” plunger award went to Grace Burpo, and Troy Weston had the most money raised by an individual with $1,135.

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