Jumping into a lake in the middle of February started off as a joke at Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics in Wadsworth, but medical assistant Kim Reed took the bait.
Reed, cheered on by other staff members, took the leap in Turkeyfoot Lake for the 2012 Polar Bear Plunge at Portage Lakes State Park on Feb. 18.
“When you first hit the water, it takes your breath away,” she said. “People are coming out and shivering with red legs. It took me two hours to get warm, but it was so much fun and worth it.”
The 9th annual event invited jumpers to raise money for chosen charities. This year the focus was on cancer and supported the American Cancer Society, Camp Quality and Stewart’s Caring Place.
“I thought about doing it last year, but put it off,” Reed said. “When the flyer was sent this year, we joked around, but I decided to do it. I lost my sister to cancer three years ago, so this year’s focus held a special place for me.”
Reed and her cheerleaders didn’t know what to expect the day of the jump. People brought grills for cooking out, tents for keeping warm and interesting outfits for attracting attention.
“There were lots of people dressed up: such as a man in a tuxedo, a man dressed as the lead singer from KISS and as superheroes,” said Lisa Bates, secretary.
She along with the other 500 participants jumped off a dock into the lake with a temperature of 37° F.
Bates and Reed both said the office will participate in the event again and will think of something creative for the group.