A group of 15 people lined up at Peekskill’s Riverfront Green Park Tuesday and took a cool, refreshing dip into the Hudson River.
Moments later, they’re shivering bodies could be seen running away in search of anything resembling comfort and warmth. Fortunately all 15 people participants in the The Quiet Man Public House and the This Is Me Foundation first annual New Year's Day Polar Plunge made it back safely.
They also helped to raise more than $2,420 for the foundation. Sisters Lauren Brady and Caitlin Brady created the organization to raise awareness about alopecia and to help any individual dealing with adversity.
The organization has given scholarships to Peekskill High School seniors who have show leadership while dealing with adversity and plans to ramp up its scholarship program to the national level.
“We’re really excited because it’s for a good cause and it all goes back to the community,” said Lauren Brady said.
Brady said the idea for the event came from Chuck McGreal, owner of the Quiet Man.
McGill said he used to participate in similar events in his native country, Ireland, and thought it would be a fun thing to do here.
“It was something we’d do either Christmas or New Years Day as a fundraiser,” McGreal said. “Lauren is a good friend of mine and she chairs up a good organization and I like getting the community and I think it’s important to get people together, especially when it’s to help people who have less than themselves.”
While Lauren Brady organized the event, her sister was the one who went through with the plunge.
“Lauren is very vocal about how much she hates the cold, so I didn’t want to throw her under the bus,” Caitlin Brady said. “I was so nervous. I tried to back out, but Lauren wouldn’t let me.”
Ashley MacEwan, who also took the plunge, said she didn’t prepare too much prior to jumping in the river.
“You just start walking around with no shoes on just to get your feet cold, because that’s worst part of it,” MacEwan said. “Your feet.”
Christine Bischoff, who also participated in the plunge, said she did so in honor of Ryan Risco, who died 2011. The foundation created its scholarship program in the memory Risco and Cait Chivonne Polhill.
Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster said it is wonderful to have young nonprofit organizations and professional come together and create events in the city.
“I was shocked 15 people jumped into the water and, quite frankly, it’s testament to the creativity and ingenuity of our young folks,” Foster said.
Councilwoman Marybeth McGowan agreed.
“I think it’s a good benefit and nice community event, but they’re crazy to jump in the water,” McGowan said.
Both McGowan and Foster said they would not participate in the Polar Plunge next year.