by Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, posted 1/31/11
For the second year in a row the Hatboro-Horsham boys’ lacrosse team has taken a plunge for a worthy cause.
Twenty-three members of the Hatters team along with head coach J.P. Banks braved freezing temperatures, a foot of snow and icy waters in donating their bodies for a few seconds Saturday in the 2011 Eastern Polar Plunge at Neshaminy State Park in Bensalem.
The team made the plunge in an event organized by team co-captain Joe Palo for his senior graduation project. Palo said the team raised more than $3,000 in sponsorships for Special Olympics of Pennsylvania.
In all, 1,000 people braved 29-degree weather and 34-degree waters as well as frozen snow on the beach. More than $150,000 was raised for 20,000 Special Olympians in this event – the second of four throughout the state during the winter.
Palo did not get to participate last year when Hatboro-Horsham went to the Plunge because he was competing in a wrestling tournament that day. This time, he felt like a rookie plunger.
“It was absolutely crazy,” he said. “I ran in and was in there for about two seconds. My whole lower part of my body shut down. it felt like pins and needles in my legs.
“I got out as fast as possible and ran as fast as I could to the heat tent. Then we realized our clothes were back near the water and we had to run back and get them.”
Palo said that many people dressed in “colorful” apparel. Participants also had to wait for up to 30 minutes in their suits or costumes for the OK to plunge into the freezing waters.
“We had some guys come dressed in girls’ clothing and some in wrestling uniforms,” he said. “Some were dressed as party boys.”
Palo – whose team raised about $1000 more than it did last year – said he spent about 30 organizing the event and trying to get other teams from the Suburban One Continental Conference to join in on the fundraiser. But he found that jumping into the water in sub-freezing temperatures was not a popular draw.
“I e-mailed the athletic directors of every team in the Suburban One Continental Conference and five people got back to me but I couldn’t get anyone else to register,” he said. “I learned it takes a lot to get people involved.”