SOUTHINGTON - Time to take the leap!
For the 15th year, teams from numerous community organizations will take part in the Sloper Plunge. This event sees teams jump into freezing water to help raise money for families, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend Camp Sloper, to be able to attend in the warmer weather.
The event will be held Jan. 18 at 1 p.m. at YMCA Camp Sloper at 1000 East St. Hundreds of brave individuals will be taking the plunge and hundreds more will gather to cheer for them.
Mark Pooler, CEO of the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCA, said that he is excited to be celebrating 15 years of plunging for a good cause.
“The Sloper Plunge Season is truly the most wonderful time of the year,” he said. “The event has grown so much throughout the Southington and Cheshire communities and we’re excited to welcome back previous plungers and new plungers to jump into the chilly waters of Sloper Pond for a wonderful cause - to send kids to camp. What’s cool about this is that all the volunteers will be jumping into the same waters where kids will be learning how to swim, developing self-confidence and having a great summer experience.”
Last year, funds raised by the participating teams helped 150 children from Southington and Cheshire to attend camp who otherwise couldn’t afford to go.
“At the Y, we recognize the importance of summer camp in the age of social media,” said Pooler. “It’s important for kids to be active outside and have real face time with friends. It is important for them to develop new skills and appreciate the great outdoors. The YMCA’s mission is to make sure that every child has the opportunity to come to camp regardless if they can afford it.”
Pooler, along with Jackie Nadeau and Al Natelli, are three participants who have jumped into the freezing pond every year since the event’s inception.
“It’s always a shock; there’s no way to jump into 33 degree water without one,” said Pooler. “But, for me, as a veteran plunger, it is exciting to see the joy and the nervous energy of first-year plungers. The whole event has a great community feeling. We all come together for a couple hours for a really fun time.”
Pooler said that 15 teams from Southington and Cheshire are participating this year. They include Cheshire police, Southington firefighters, Southington and Cheshire politicians, The Calvanese Foundation and Y teams from both Cheshire and Southington. There will also be Team Southington - comprised of town employees, a team from Lake Compounce, the Leaping Ladies - a team of civic-minded women, several Cheshire pizza restaurants and the Cheshire and Southington High School football teams, who will put aside their rivalry for this cause.
The featured team this year will be the Ben Was Here Foundation team. The team was founded by Jeff and Cristin Buckley after their son Benjamin died of an asthma attack in 2014. Since then, the foundation has given back to the community in his name.
“They have been generous donors and community partners with the Y for years,” said Pooler. “They are all about spreading goodwill in Ben’s memory.”
Pooler said that people are welcome to come and watch the event. However, he asked them to carpool where possible.
The YMCA is still looking for sponsors to support this event.
Additionally, those who wish to support the teams can visit sccymca.org/sloper-plunge to see the team captains and email them. There, people can also view waivers that they need to sign in order to participate. And, those who seek to fundraise can find tips for how to raise money.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.