The annual “Polar Bear Dip- Cold for the Cure” attracted the adventurous, the generous, and the curious New Year’s Day at Charles Mill Lake in Mansfield. The “Polar Bear Dip - Cold for the Cure” raises money and awareness for The American Cancer Society and the Lisa Fund, an organization dedicated to late-stage, ground-breaking colorectal cancer research projects.
“Polar Bear Dip - Cold for the Cure” consisted of the stout of heart racing into the frigid waters of Charles Mill Lake, some in bathing suits, some in diving suits, and even a few in some unusual outfits. All had one thing in common, aside from goosebumps, and that was a desire to raise money and awareness for cancer research.
“The dip began in January 2007,” said Sheila Schrack, founder and organizer of the “Polar Bear Dip - Cold for the Cure”. “I was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2006 and my son, who was 13 at the time, had the idea to start a relay for life team. We did and began thinking of fundraisers. My husband had an annual tradition himself of jumping in the water on New Year's Day and decided we should have a polar bear and so it was born! It has grown more than any of us could have imagined.”
The Lisa Fund is a new recipient this year for the “Polar Bear Dip - Cold for the Cure” funds.
“In the spring I was chosen by an organization called Fight Colorectal Cancer to become an advocate for colon cancer and go to Washington DC on behalf of the group to speak to my Congressmen. It was at that time I learned of the Lisa Fund. This is a fund that donates 100% of their donations to colorectal cancer research.”
Many of those participating in the “Polar Bear Dip - Cold for the Cure” event did so in memory of loved ones lost to various forms of cancer, or in support of those still fighting the disease.
Hayley Potter of Mansfield dove into the frigid waters in memory of her mother, Sandra Jones, who passed away in 2003 of cancer. This was Potter’s first year at the event. She attended with her friend, Jessika Pifher, an employee of Charles Mill Lake, who has been a “Polar Bear Dipper” for three years.
Although this was Stan Null Jr.’s third year participating in the event, this year was in honor of his brother.
“I lost my younger brother about two months ago to cancer. His name was Jeremy Null, and he was 43 years old – way too young,” said Stan Null Jr., of Ashland.
Chad Schrack, husband of Sheila Schrack, participates in the diving each year. He estimated the water temperature for New Year’s Day to be an average of 34 to 38 degrees.
Dive and Ice Rescue Teams from the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, Charles Mill Lake, and Pleasant Hill Lake take part in the event, keeping count of the participants as they enter and exit the water in measured groups.
“We make a barrier, so people can’t get past us,” said Lt. Scott Smart of the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office, “Chad [Schrack] contacted us when he first started, and wanted our support, just for safety. We’ve taken it year after year, from just standing by and watching to actually getting in the water. A lot of the people will come all the way out to us, shake our hands, and turn around and go back.”
This year's participants, including men, women and children, totaled 263 New Year’s Day, along with one adventurous dog, bringing the official total to 264 “Polar Bear Dip - Cold for the Cure” participants.
Corporate sponsors for the event included: Wayside Inn; Beck's Auto Wrecking; Zara Construction; Kingston Healthcare Co.; Greedy Greg's Mifflin Market; Chucktown Dental; A-1 Auto & Cycle Salvage; Green Clover; Callahan Door & Window; Beer Barrel; Jane's Hunger Paynes; Thauvette Financial Services; Mid-Ohio Graphics; Charles Mill Lake Park; The Office of the Sheriff Ashland County Dive/Rescue Team.
Those interested in becoming corporate sponsors or making donations may do so by contacting Sheila Schrack at 419-651-6018.
Information on the American Cancer Society can found at their website http://www.cancer.org/
More about the group Fight Colorectal Cancer can be found at http://fightcolorectalcancer.org/