More than 330 people plunged into 33-degree waters on Saturday at the eighth annual Freezin’ for Reason Virginia Polar Dip at Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza.
The event raised more than $100,000 for Camp Sunshine, a Maine sleepaway summer camp for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
To take the plunge, participants donated at least $100. This year, jumpers raised a record-setting $111,000, which is enough to send 56 families to the camp.
On Friday night, event organizers used chainsaws to carve a square-shaped hole in the four-inch ice that covered Lake Anne. Despite daytime temperatures in the mid-40s, the hole was again frozen over by noon Saturday. Shortly before the 2 p.m. starting time, divers in cold-water wetsuits spent fifteen minutes clearing the ice.
Then, kids and adults — some wearing viking costumes, superhero getups, and swimwear — lined up on Lake Anne Plaza’s dock to take the plunge. Which each splash, the crowd of more than 400 people cheered and clapped.
After emerging from the lake, the jumpers were given a hot towel and invited inside the Reston Community Center to regain feeling in their fingers and toes.
Jumper and Fairfax resident Tammy Sankner, 44, whose team raised more than $1,600, says she took the plunge for her children.
“Our kids are cancer kids, so we formed a team to show our kids we’d do anything for them,” says Sankner.
Scott Doeden, a 43-year-old from Stephens City, Va., plunged into the frigid waters dressed as a tutu-wearing Batman.
“The water is a shock,” says Deoden. “I didn’t really panic, but I thought, I gotta get out, now.”
“Team Viking” captain Duff Means, 37, of Sterling, says Saturday marked his family’s fifth time jumping. Means, whose team raised $1,530, described the experience as diving head-first into a slushie.
“I’m always happy to support Camp Sunshine,” he says.
The last to leap into Lake Anne was Virginia Polar Dip founder Gail Toth, who helped start the local event after her daughter attended the camp.
“The whole community, all of Reston and the surrounding area, has been so supportive of the event and it has grown so much,” says Toth. “It’s really inspiring to see how generous people are and how much they really want to help.”