Crazy for Our Climate

photo by Ira Shorr

photo by Ira Shorr


This is the fourth January that I am doing something crazy.  On Saturday, just three days from now, I will walk out into the Potomac River, wearing only a bathing suit!  Oh yes, and also a fleecy headband to give me the illusion of warmth!

Actually, I’m plunging into the river not because I’m crazy but because I’m passionate.  I’m passionate about the urgent need to address our climate crisis.  And I will not be alone:  I’ll be plunging with more than 100 people, all who feel strongly about protecting the climate.

This Saturday’s Polar Bear Plunge, at National Harbor, near Washington, D.C., is the annual fundraising event for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN).  CCAN works throughout the mid-Atlantic region to enact policies that increase the use of clean, alternative energies, phase out our dependence on fossil fuels, and put us on a path to a stable, healthy climate.  And CCAN is a first rate outfit!  International climate leader Bill McKibben has called CCAN “the most effective regional climate organization in the entire world!”  

So spending a few minutes in frigid water is a small price to pay for a strong, well-funded CCAN.  We Plungers  are raising money for CCAN by inviting our friends and family to sponsor our plunge by making a donation to CCAN.  This Saturday’s event will be CCAN’s 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge, and organizers hope it will raise $100,000.

I think CCAN’s Polar Bear Plunge is a brilliant fundraiser.  Many people, when they see that their friends are willing to make a sacrifice for something important, feel moved to make a financial sacrifice of their own for the same worthy cause.  And dramatic acts, like more than 100 people jumping into a frigid river in the middle of winter, attract attention.  So this event, coupled with a media campaign, can help publicize CCAN’s needed work.   

And the Plunge is quite an event!  It always begins with a boisterous rally, which fortifies us Plungers for the   uncomfortable minutes ahead.  Every time I have taken the Plunge, my friend Diane has accompanied me, encouraging me and greeting me with a towel when I return, shivering, from the river.

I have seen Plungers as young as 10 and as old as 80-something.  In fact, one year an old woman relied on her cane to stay upright as she carefully made her way out into the river!  Last year it was so cold that the Plunge organizers had to hack up river ice so that we Plungers could get into the water!  

As a Plunger, I’m afraid I’m not like the young men who energetically dive into the water head first, and then splash wildly as if it were a hot summer day.  Instead, I approach the water as the fairly timid 60+ woman I am.  I  take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other as I move from the water’s edge out into deeper water.  

It has  surprised me how quickly my feet lose all feeling.  Then my calves.  Then my thighs.  Last year I had planned to go out up to my neck, but because of my fear of falling and being too numb to get myself out, I turned back when the water was just above my waist.  (My friend Kathy playfully demanded half her money back because I didn’t completely immerse myself!)  But I needn’t have been concerned.  A first aid team is at the ready, perched in a boat nearby. 

The best part of all, though, is the joyous celebration after the Plunge, when Plungers and supporters all gather at the nearby restaurant.  It feels great to sit inside where it’s warm and visit with my friends who have shown up to support me, and to know that the next Plunge is a whole year away.

By the way, I have set an ambitious personal fundraising goal for this year’s Polar Bear Plunge, $4,000.  If you would like to support my Plunge with a donation to CCAN (we know that constructive climate work anywhere in the world benefits all of us no matter where we live) I would, of course, be grateful.  You can click this link to my personal fundraising page, where you can quickly and easily donate online.  April Moore’s Plunge  

I’ll report back next week.–April Moore



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