The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 9, 2014

Polar Bear Plunge Club seeking help for advocacy center


— Organizers of the 11th annual Greenbrier Valley Polar Bear Plunge Club say the charity event for the nonprofit Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg is set for March 8 at 1 p.m. at the Blue Bend Recreation Area in the Monongahela National Forest.

Last year, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin proclaimed the event a “special West Virginia tradition,” and the plunge was also nam-ed a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 event for 2014.

Since 2001, 230 fearless individuals have earn-ed their polar bear membership cards by plunging into the icy waters of Anthony Creek. Last year, 131 kindred spirits help-ed raise awareness about child abuse.

The event raised nearly $18,000 for the nonprofit Child and Youth Advocacy Center of Lewisburg, which interviews and counsels sexually abused children in Greenbrier, Monroe and Pocahontas counties and aids in the prosecution of sex offenders. As always, 100 percent of the proceeds go directly to the CYAC.

Club members from all across West Virginia and seven states, including Tennessee, North Carolina and Ohio, have plung-ed at Blue Bend where water temperatures average about 36 degrees in March.  

“The psychological fear of the cold water is much greater than actually going in,” said Polar Bear Club president and found-er Christian M. Giggenbach, who has plunged in all 10 previous events. “But that pales in comparison to the fear that sexually abused children in our area live with every moment of the day. We all jump in to help protect those innocent children.”

New this year will be a flyover by stunt pilot Scott Yoak in his World War II vintage Quick Silver P-51D Mustang. After the plunge, the Half Bad Bluegrass band will entertain in the large shelter in the campground. Many plungers also dress up in their favorite G-rated costumes to win prizes.

Currently, polar bears are roaming the area seeking plunge sponsorships. Businesses may be listed on Polar Bear T-shirts and in the program guide. Plungers who raise at least $25 will receive a polar bear T-shirt. Fund-raising packets can be picked up at the CYAC, Little Black Box Lingerie in Lewisburg, or online at www.facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear. Call 304-645-4668 for more details.

“We are deeply appreciative for the plungers, pledgers, businesses and volunteers who make the polar bear plunge a reality,” CYAC Executive Director Ann Weikle said. “Please bring your kids and the whole family to watch the fun and sponsor a plunger.”

For more information about the plunge or how you can volunteer, visit facebook.com/greenbrierpolarbear.