WATERVILLE VALLEY — Super heroes, a giant squirrel and rabbit, and a team of ardent Red Sox fans were among the dozens who took a dip Saturday in Corcoran’s Pond to benefit Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports.
Founded in 1992, the all-volunteer operated and all donor-funded Waterville Valley adaptive program empowers individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities through instructor-guided experiences on the slopes of the Waterville Valley Resort.
Each winter, Waterville Valley Adaptive Sports’ 50 instructors give more than 1,000 lessons to 200 students, said Scott Brown, the chairman of the program’s board of directors. As a small nonprofit, WVAS depends on two annual fundraisers, he said, each of which brings in about half of the approximately $80,000 operating budget.
Calendar-wise, the first of the fundraisers is the Cold Turkey Plunge, whose theme this year, its sixth, was “Freezin’ for a Reason.”
The event attracted hundreds of people to the town square side of Corcoran’s Pond, where organizers had to cut through some five inches of ice to create a square-shaped plunging area.
Although emcee Tom Gross played up the coldness of the water, the air temperature was in the lower to mid-30s.
While several of the plungers seemed reluctant to just jump right in, the prevailing attitude of the rest was to go full-immersion, including via cannon ball, corkscrew, and in the case of a young man who was dressed in an orange-colored suit, an all-limbs-splayed belly flop.
Compared to that simplicity, Bill Powell, in a gray-squirrel costume, and Cynthia Powell, dressed as a pink rabbit, presented a dramatic scene that featured their being pursued into the water by a fellow plunger who was decked out as a German Shepherd dog.
As the dog closed on Bill Powell, and just before Powell entered the water, he let two acorns fly in a futile attempt to distract his canine pursuer.
The performance was among the many smile-inducing moments during the plunge and even before it, as when Gross and his co-emcee, Tess Roper Weglarz, interviewed members of the Sunnyside & Shadysiders team.
The team came to the plunge with its ‘A’ game, unfurling, to the strains of “Sweet Caroline,” a banner proclaiming that they and the Red Sox — who last month won their fourth World Series title since 2004 — were champions.
While others took turns holding the Commissioner’s Trophy, the symbol of the Red Sox being the best team in baseball in 2018, one member shook a bottle of champagne and then doused Larry Gannon with the celebratory bubbly.
Dean Haymes of Nashua, who has been an instructor with WVAS for 20 years, said the organization works with individuals as well as groups such as Warfighter Sports and the New Hampshire Special Olympics and institutions including Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
“We give people a chance to slide down the mountain,” said Haymes, adding that WVAS also helps bring families together.
Brown, whose 15-year old son, Griffin, is on the autism spectrum, agreed.
Had it not been for what Griffin has learned over a decade in the WVAS program, “neither he nor we as a family would be able to ski,” said Brown.
Brown thanked Waterville Valley Resort, volunteers and plungers for their support of the WVAS.