PORTSMOUTH — Community members will continue the tradition of plunging into the New Year on January 1.
Sam Simon started the Polar Plunge with a couple of friends at his house at the turn of the century.
“Two of my friends shown up at my house on New Years Day and said ‘Let’s go jump in the river they do it everywhere’,” said Simon. “It was seven degrees outside and we dove over a foot and a half of slush and ice.”
Simon said they talked about the jump for a while and decided to make it a tradition. The following year, the group had seven people join and the year after they had 14 people and a dog.
In 2004, the group went to Court Street Landing and became the Portsmouth Polar Bears and continued the tradition of the Polar Plunge.
“I like to say we’re freezin’ for a reason,” said Simon.
Each year the group picks an organization to bring awareness to.
“Usually we focus on rest home veterans, but this year we chose to bring awareness to organ donation,” said Simon.
Simon said his two nephews inspired him to bring awareness to organ donation.
“One of my nephews received organs while sadly my other nephew passed away this year but was able to donate his eyes,” said Simon. “It doesn’t cost anything to check that box and make something magnificent happen.”
Simon said they just want to spread awareness of how important organ donation is.
“When you go to the BMV next and they asked if you want to be an organ donor, say yes because it can mean a lot to somebody,” he said.,
Although this year the focus is on organ donation, Simon would still like to be able to do something for the veterans.
“If we were to raise any money we would donate it to the Sons of the American Legion for them to donate to an organization of their choice and we would like to put together a care package for rest home veterans,” said Simon.
The group will leave from American Legion Post 23 and go to the Court Street Landing where they will jump at noon.
“At the sound of the whistle, we go in,” said Simon. “I’ve had ages range from 8 to 92 and people have came in costumes before which I always get a kick out of. The light-hearted, crazy, fun is why I look forward to it every year,” said Simon. “We’re freezin’ freezin for a reason and my slogan this year is ‘Jump in the river or donate your liver’.”
Simon added he just likes to see people having fun while they participate in the event.
“It’s good to do something good for your community,” said Simon. “We wish everyone the best of the new year.”
Reach Darian Gillette at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at email@example.com.
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