Taking the plunge for the 20th annual Polar Bear Dip
When the air and water temperatures are hovering around 30 degrees, most wouldn't even think about swimming, but as our Katie Gibas tells us, nearly 100 people jumped into the St. Lawrence River Saturday to raise money for a good cause.
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ALEXANDRIA BAY, N.Y. -- The icebergs make it look more like the North Pole than Alexandria Bay, and we've even got our own polar bears making the plunge into the frigid waters.
"Having a good crowd there cheering you on, it really helps get your adrenaline pumping and to take that last step before you jump in, you really have to take that leap of faith. When the cold water hits you, the air just kind of crushes out of your lungs like a thousand knives stabbing you from every direction," said Brian Sweeney, Watertown Resident.
So what motivates people to jump into 30-degree water?
"Every year I try to do something extreme whether it's run a marathon, bungee jumping, sky diving, and this year, 2010, is the year of the Polar Bear Dip," said Sweeney.
"My secretary dared me to do this, and second of all it's for a great cause," said Dustin Cunningham, Watertown resident.
It's the 20th annual Polar Bear Dip in Alexandria Bay, and jumpers are judged on both their costume and their dipping technique.
"My dipping technique today, I will be doing the graceful goose takes flight," Sweeney.
"I'm doing the Dustin Cunningham South Carolina Special," said Cunningham.
The dip benefits friends of River Hospital, a volunteer organization that raises money to support Healthcare and they say the dip is crucial as it is their largest fundraiser of the year.
"It's very important. We're all very concerned about healthcare along the river and making sure River Hospital is there for us when we need it," said Karen Peters, Friends of River Hospital President.
"It's all for the hospital and making sure they're able to keep the unit open. It goes towards the patients and the nursing care there. It's just the cause behind it that really motivates me today," said Megan Hackney, Wichita, KS resident.
As soon as jumpers got out of the water, they ran to the nearby hot tub to warm up.
Organizers estimate the event raised more than $50,000.