The 2020 Personal Polar Plunge

A Bridging Event

On December 4-6, 2020, after a year that was difficult in so many ways for so many people, Mont Alto Polar Plunge participants showed up digitally, raising money to help combat childhood cancer.

From the president of the Franklin County Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association, Steve Hawbaker:

“(We) are pleased to announce that the 2020 Personal Polar Plunge was a success thanks to all those who participated and who sponsored the participants. Your generosity enabled us to provide $8,800 to the Penn State Mont Alto Campus Student THON Team. We wish them success in their THON efforts and thank all of you who supported the Personal Polar Plunge.”

This 2020 Polar Plunge event was organized into a different format than it has been in previous years. Usually, a large group of people gathers at a lake at a local state park on an early December day to plunge into cold water together after spending months fundraising. Usually, there is music. There is a Nittany Lion mascot. There is a chill in the air and hot chocolate in cups. There is a vibe. In the three years that the Plunge has taken place (including 2020), it has sent nearly $40,000 with the Mont Alto student dance team to benefit THON, an annual Penn State student dance marathon. The Four Diamonds Foundation then puts THON funds to work by underwriting cancer research and providing support for families coping with pediatric cancer.

“The Polar Plunge has been a staple for the last three years for Mont Alto THON. We are so blessed to have a fantastic alumni chapter that does this all FTK!”

Jacie Buller, senior and Penn State Mont Alto Dance Marathon Committee Co-chair

Plunge alumni and student collaborators knew that they could not safely plan the same kind of event in 2020. A bridging event was organized as a means of doing something instead of nothing. Students and alumni and members of the community fundraised by committing to do bucket-style “Personal” Polar Plunge videos to share in social media channels the weekend of December 4-6. Winter weather arrived just in time to make the ice water in the buckets even chillier. Videos shared by participants and the Plunge that weekend aren’t just fun — they demonstrate the deep level of passion participants cultivate for this cause.

Penn State Mont Alto Dance Marathon Committee Co-chair, junior Sarah McElwain, observes:

“The efforts of the Polar Plunge exemplifies the strength of not only our THON community but our Penn State community as well. It’s the support from our community and alumni that makes us so successful in raising funds For The Kids!”

Event coordinators also changed their invitation to local businesses with track records for supporting the annual Polar Plunge, in light of the fact that 2020 had been financially difficult for many businesses. Rather than asking for sponsors among these supporters, Plunge planners invited them to participate. In response to this invitation, several businesses encouraged employees to create teams to compete for the most money raised.

“It was awesome to see friends, community, and colleagues fundraise for THON in this much different format. I am very proud of our alma mater for continuing its effort to support THON despite the ย difficulties we all face during the pandemic.”

Mont Alto Alumni Society Board of Directors President, Jake Schrom

AJ Stambaugh, Plunge event committee chair, is amazed by the passion and hard work of the participants and community:

“Even in the midst of a pandemic where many are facing economic hardships, the generosity of donors poured in once again to support a great cause!”

Penn State Mont Alto THON dance committee students, the Penn State Alumni Association Franklin County Chapter, and the Mont Alto Alumni Society are planning to hold the 2021 Mont Alto Polar Plunge on December 5. There may be an in-person event this December. Regardless, there will probably continue to be a “Personal” Polar Plunge component so that alumni and friends who can’t make it back to the lake can continue to participate in a meaningful way. For the kids.

More information about our annual event is available at the Mont Alto Polar Plunge website, and you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates.

Post-event Weekend Thank You

In a year with serious ups and downs, we planned an event that no one had to drive anywhere to attend. It has only taken 56 participants to raise over $7,000 so far in our 2020 Personal Polar Plunge. Raising awareness about pediatric cancer and the good work of Penn State THON and Four Diamonds has been priceless.

We don’t have to be done quite yet. We’re leaving the website up and active for an additional period of time so that donations are still possible. Participants and donors, your generosity and commitment to this cause have overwhelmed and humbled us. Thank you, from the bottom of our buckets. ๐Ÿ”น๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ”น๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ”น๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ”น

~Mont Alto Polar Plunge Students and Alumni

The Mont Alto Personal Polar Plunge, 2020-style, is here!

This year hasn’t gone like anyone expected it to. And yet, you’re here. You showed up. And it warms us to the bottom of our hearts (and buckets) to see how you rallied to help us support THON and Four Diamonds and, ultimately, the children and families who struggle with issues related to childhood cancer.

Here are some quick reminders for this weekend’s event:

  1. On December 4, 5, or 6, post a video of you saying “I’m doing the Mont Alto Personal Polar Plunge to fight childhood cancer!” and then tipping a bucket of ice water over yourself.
    1. Tag us! We’re on Facebook and Twitter. @montaltoplunge
      (Please make sure it’s public so we can see it…)
    2. Send us your video! We’ll compile a video montage from the videos that are sent over. (Go to, upload your video, enter to send it — this is free!)
  2. Follow us on our social channels for updates. You’re our favorite kind of hero. We can’t wait to see how COOL you get.

Keep it legal, keep it safe, please.

*Bragging rights for costumes and creative variations on this challenge.

Thank you, everyone. We Are!

For the kids,
Your friends at the Mont Alto Polar Plunge

Four Diamond Families – The WHY

On this eve of our 2020 bucket-style Personal Polar Plunge, let’s take a moment to reflect on the WHY of what we do.

At the #MontAltoPlunge, alumni partner with students to raise money to help fight childhood cancer. The Lightner family is a #FourDiamonds family who has worked with our #THON student dance team for years.* When we say “For the Kids,” we mean it.

You can help, right now.

#ForTheKids #FTK #FreezinForAReason

*Photo taken at a previous THON event. We’ve gotten Personal this year to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.

A shirt for every occasion

Just like the Polar Plunge event is different this year than it has ever been, we’re handling event shirts differently, too.

We’ve set up an online store to allow everyone to purchase shirts with this year’s unique design (and we KNOW you have been sooo curious about the color this year, right?). You can purchase as many as you want! For whomever you want! Whatever style you want!

They’re reasonably priced, and a couple bucks from each shirt sale support our cause. The online store will be available through December 20, so get yours now!

Visual lineup of shirts for sale for Polar Plunge