For the Star Beacon
JEFFERSON — The Polar Bear Plunge is a charity event that many people become involved in to raise money for the Special Olympics. Students and community members from all parts of Ohio get together on different dates to jump into the frigid waters of their area. Thousands of dollars each year are raised through the sponsorship money that each jumper collects.
Many members of our county participate in the Polar Bear Plunge event for the Special Olympics that is held at Geneva-on-the-Lake; however, many students from the Jefferson, Pymatuning Valley and Grand Valley school districts take part in a separate plunge, held in Roaming Shores, which benefits a different cause.
The Polar Bear Plunge held in Roaming Shores began in memorial of Jeff Meddock, a former Pymatuning Valley High School principal and beloved Roaming Shores resident that passed away unexpectedly at the age of 38 on Oct. 2, 2008. Meddock enjoyed participating in the Polar Bear Plunge in Geneva and encouraged his students to participate as well. In his honor, the RoamRock Association founded the Polar Bear Plunge of Roaming Shores. Based on the money raised from the students of each participating school, as well as many supportive community members, the funds are donated to charities such as: The Jeff Meddock Memorial Scholarship Fund, Jefferson Falcon Academic Boosters, the “Breakfast with Santa” event for local children, and several other local non-profit funds and charities.
As a very close friend of Meddock, Jeremy Huber, the principal of Jefferson Area High School, is very fond of the Polar Bear Plunge. He participates in the event every year and also rallies up the support and participation of many of the students at JHS.
“This event is very important to our area and our school,” he said. “The money raised by Jefferson students is used to support the Academic Boosters, which helps to fund Model United Nations, academic field trips and rewards, as well as several large scholarships.”
Huber said that more than $4,000 has been raised by the plunge in the past two years for the academic boosters alone, and that through community and student participation, he believes this event will continue to be a great success. He also expressed his appreciation for Shawn Morris, Chris Plickert, and the other men and women who organize the Polar Bear Plunge. More than 35 students from Jefferson are planning to participate in the Polar Bear Plunge this year.
Junior Zoe Contenza, who also participated in the plunge last year, is excited to participate again this Saturday. “The plunge is a lot of fun, though it is very cold,” she said. “I think it is important to help support this cause, as well as our school.”
Contenza is an avid member of the Jefferson Model United Nations team, which is heavily supported by the Academic Boosters.
“Many of the programs that are supported by the boosters are very important to our school and its students. Without fund-raisers and generous charities like the Polar Bear Plunge, many activities would not be possible,” Contenza said.
There is great excitement in the competitive spirit of this charitable event. Jefferson, Grand Valley and Pymatuning Valley high schools attempt to rally up the most plungers and raise the most money for each of their given funds. If members of the community wish to support any of the schools specifically, they may organize this with the school, or specify their wishes during sign ups.
“Mr. Meddock would have loved this event,” said Huber. “He would appreciate all of the many students and community members who come out to support.”
This year, the Polar Bear Plunge will be held on Saturday at the Roaming Shores Club House. Sign-ups will be from 1 until 3 p.m. The community is encouraged to come out and take the plunge.