WATERVILLE VALLEY — Despite temperatures in the mid-20s, scores of people, including those dressed as bagpipers, astronauts, and a flamenco dancer, chose to be “freezin’ for a reason” as they jumped into the frigid waters of Corcoran Pond to raise money for Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports.
Now in its seventh year, the Cold Turkey Plunge has raised a cumulative $250,000.
Saturday’s Cold Turkey Plunge brought in more than $45,000, which will be used to purchase specialized adaptive athletic equipment and to provide ski and snowboard lessons and equipment for children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities.
“We’re not the largest adaptive-sports program in New England,” said WVAS Executive Director Cynthia Powell after the plunge, “but we excel with the best-trained staff,” many of whom jumped into Corcoran Pond or who coordinated the event from on shore.
Powell said WVAS, which was founded in 1992 and offers 800 lessons a year, is entirely dependent on its all-volunteer staff and the generosity of them and the public.
It costs about $60,000 annually to operate WVAS, she said, with all of that money coming from just two fundraisers: the Cold Turkey Plunge and the Ski-a-thon, which is held in February at the nearby Waterville Valley Resort.
Larry Gannon, a WVAS volunteer who founded the Cold Turkey Plunge and is known as “the grand gobbler” for his habit of wearing a hat that looks like a roasted turkey, thanked everyone who participated and gave a special shout-out to Tim Smith, the president/general manager of Waterville Valley Resort, for his continued support.
Co-emcee Tom Gross pointed out to the hundreds of observers that the plunge has grown immensely since it started in 2013, when it raised a modest $10,200.
Gannon thinks the 2019 plunge, with donations still coming in, may eclipse the 2017 one, which raised $48,000 and was “one of the warmer” plunges on record.
For those who wanted to support the plunge but dared not dip themselves, the WVAS this year offered a virtual experience.
In exchange for a donation of $50 or more to WVAS and a picture of him or herself, the photos would be digitally changed to depict the virtual plungers in Corcoran Pond.