Polar Plunge raises money, awareness

Annual BVA fundraiser is a frosty good time for local groups

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Snowflakes and frosty temperatures didn't stop hundreds of folks from enjoying a dip in the Brndywine, Saturday.

EAST BRADFORD — It was a perfectly lovely February day. A gentle snow was falling, with the temperature hovering in the low 30s.

While it was the kind of day most of us would want to cozy up to a fire with a warm drink and a good book, for the fifth straight year a couple of hundred folks decided it would be a great day to take a swim in the Brandywine.

A little on the nutty side? To be sure. For a good cause? Equally to be sure, as Saturday’s Polar Plunge raised more than $12,000 for the Brandywine Valley Association, and will help to fund efforts to keep local creeks and streams, such as the Brandywine clean and clear.

The association works to improve the water quality of the local watershed — in part through its Red Streams, Blue program. BVA is also working with a number of local municipalities to help them meet new federal stormwater runoff management requirements.

As has been the case in previous years, each of the swimmers had to pay a $35 fee — although many raised much more than that through getting pledges to support their frigid swim. While there were groups of students from West Chester University, West Chester Rustin High School, Unionville High School and elsewhere, there was, as usual, a large contingent from the Unionville area — including a large team from the Longwood Rotary Club.

Longwood Rotary president Rosemary Gill (in chicken suit) along with Rotarian and would-be "Housewives of The Brandywine" group member Stu Krissinger share a moment before the 2012 Polar Plunge. a mom

And Longwood Rotary stood out, just a bit, thanks to Rotary president Rosemary Gill wearing a giant, yellow chicken suit.

“Historically, the president typically goes in,” she said, looking warily at the Brandywine minutes before the mass of swimmers dove in. “But I hired a representative, instead, but I had to wear this suit.”

Coordinating both the Rotary effort, as well as one by Unionville High School’s Interact, Unionville-Chadds Ford Superintendent of Schools Dr. John Sanville needed no such suit. Although, he went a bit lower key than his predecessor, Sharon Parker, famous for her Plunge outfits, Sanville — who braved the waters last year as well — said he was ready to hit the waves, being for such a good cause. Between, them, he said, the two groups he was working with raised more than $1,100.

BVA also raised money through membership recruiting, raffles and donations for coffee/hot chocolate, donated by Starbucks, food as well as contests and swimmer giveaways provided by The North Face.

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