It started as a harmless post to Instagram. I was bored; it was very cold; and due to icy road conditions, we were stuck in our house on a lazy December Saturday morning. As I glanced outside at our pool, I decided to just have a little fun with a photo of the contrasting inviting blue water surrounded by an inch of ice. I posted the photo to social media outlets, with the caption, "Dare me?" I fully intended that to be a post that was more rhetorical in nature than anything.
I mean really, it was 26 degrees. But as we all know with social media, rare is the question that is rhetorical in nature. And so the "dares" followed. But what set me over the edge was not a simple dare, but a "double dog dare." And as we all know, when someone issues a "double dog dare," actions must be taken. But need I remind you, it was 26 degrees? And yes, I did check the water temperature, and it was a tad warmer than the air temp, 42 degrees. Good grief.
As the banter on Facebook and Twitter continued, an idea struck me. I could do this. Yes, with the right encouragement! So I issued a challenge to my online friends - help me raise money for charity, and if enough was raised, I would take the Polar Pool Plunge! And so it began.
My family and I had to quickly decide which charities should benefit from this not-so-random act of lunacy. After little discussion, we decided that both Heifer International and Coats for Kids should be the recipients of all donated funds. It's winter. It's cold. And we are warm and happy. But we are aware that during this Christmas season, many still suffer. Many remain cold, homeless and hungry. And our children wanted to find a way to help other children. So Heifer immediately came to mind. What a better way to pass on the gift than to help others feed themselves! And by noon, the challenge was on.
If, by 2 p.m., we raised $2,000 - with $1,000 to be given to Heifer International and $1,000 to be given to Coats for Kids (via Arkansas Rice Depot), I would make this jump, at the age of 51, with a temperature of 26 and a water temperature of 42 degrees. What was I thinking? And then it happened! People started spreading the word via Twitter, text, and Facebook. In less than an hour, over $800 had been pledged. And it was then that I realized that there was no turning back. This was going to happen.
We agreed to have a Twitter friend document the event. We also agreed that folks would be on their own honor system to donate online after the event was complete. And as the clock sped forward toward 2 p.m., Gulp! As "go time" arrived, so did my anxiety. My family had spent time Googling "effects jumping into cold water." That didn't help. But they did find some funny YouTube videos of folks who had survived such pool antics. So I was somewhat motivated to move forward.
Earlier in the day, my 18-year-old son did a test jump, so I figured I could survive. At 2 p.m. sharp, Chad Gardner, the officially designated Twitter historian for this event, arrived and I greeted him in my bathrobe. Okay, technically, it was my daughter's bathrobe. But desperate times call for desperate measures. My family accompanied Chad outside as I inched my way around the pool. No, going off the diving board was not an option.
After removing the robe and feeling the bitter cold against my skin, slight panic set in. My family reminded me that it was all "for the kids," and the countdown began...5...4...3...2...1...splash! Good grief. In spite of being extremely short of breath, I was able to let out several screams as I literally ran to the pool steps. And my screams seemed to be several octaves higher than normal (video footage confirmed this!).
I did submerge my head under the water before exiting the icy pool and was quickly greeted with warm towels. My chest hurt some and my feet were nearly numb, but I did survive. After the congratulations of the feat subsided, the real excitement began! That's when people began to make good on their pledges, notifying me that yes, they did in fact contribute as promised.
Even those who were unaware of the event before it started made online contributions after seeing the video from the plunge! Did we raise $2,000? I don't think so, but I am confident that the amount was well over $1,000 to be given between the two charities. And what began as a dreary cold Saturday certainly warmed my heart, and I am pretty certain that it warmed the hearts of those that were able to pass on the gift as well.