The temperatures have been rather frigid lately, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing fun to do out in the great outdoors of Northeast Pennsylvania.
Just ask the planners of the Friends of Shannon McDonough Splashin’ with Compassion polar plunge, who are now in their fifth year of providing good wintertime fun for a very good cause.
The event will take place Saturday, Jan. 27, at Montage Mountain, with registration from 9 to 11 a.m. and plunging from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Admission is $35 for participants, who can pre-register online at friendsofshannonmcdonough.com. Those who sign up by Friday, Jan. 19, will receive a free hooded sweatshirt. For those who just want to come and cheer on the plungers, admission is free.
All proceeds from the event benefit Friends of Shannon McDonough, a nonprofit that distributes funds to local cancer patients ages 16 to 25.
McDonough, a lifelong Scranton resident, was just 23 when she lost her battle with colon cancer in 2009. A few years later, her closest friends decided they wanted to honor the memory of their kind, fun-loving, generous friend via an event that could be done in addition to the group’s annual St. Patrick’s Parade t-shirt sale.
It was McDonough’s uncle, an aficionado of polar plunges, who came to the group with the Splashin’ with Compassion idea.
It proved a unique and popular idea, considering the event typically draws about 150 elements-braving participants. Last year’s polar plunge raised about $10,000 and was distributed to several local cancer patients. Many of them travel out of town for their treatments, so the money comes in handy for things like hotel and transportation costs, said event co-organizer Stephanie Schofield.
Meanwhile, the proceeds from the event’s 30 or so gift baskets will be distributed to various local fundraisers.
“I can’t believe it’s been five years,” Schofield said. “In a way, it gets a bit easier every year. We get a lot of the same supporters, a lot of the same sponsors. Every year, we do a little bit more. And it gets more exciting. People love it.”
Every year, the event kicks off with the McDonough family taking the first plunge, followed by a fresh group of brave souls every five minutes. Depending on the weather, plungers will either jump in one of Montage’s existing pools, or one specifically excavated for the event. It’s also worth noting that there’s a hot tub nearby for warming up.
All participants must sign waivers, and kids ages 12 to 18 must have parental consent to participate. Local EMS crews will be on hand in case of any emergencies.
To add some further incentive to the proceedings, gift cards will be rigged on the bottom of the pool for plungers to grab. And, participants who don costumes will be eligible for additional prizes.
Also, the festivities will include a deejay, ski up bar, 50/50, sleigh of cheer and vendor tables manned by local health organizations.
Local businesses interested in donating or pledging a sponsorship can contact Friends of Shannon McDonough by Jan. 19 at firstname.lastname@example.org or 570-903-9079.
As always, attendees can expect a frigid yet fun-filled day.
“It’s just really nice to be able to help someone in need. If we can help ease their money situation somewhat, that means the world to us,” she said. “I think if Shannon was still here, she’d be right there doing it with us.”
If you go What: Fifth annual Friends of Shannon McDonough Splashin’ with Compassion polar plunge benefit
Where: Montage Mountain
When: Saturday, Jan. 27, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Details: Admission is $35 for plungers and free for those simply attending. To pre-register, or for more information, visit friendsofshannonmcdonough.com or the Friends of Shannon McDonough Facebook page.