We at the Mont Alto Polar Plunge have been working behind the scenes to coordinate a slightly different kind of event — one that is resilient to some of the unpredictable outcomes of 2020.
Look for updates over the next few months from us. Because this year’s event isn’t geographically locked into a location, anyone who wants to jump in to our efforts can participate!
December 4, 5, and 6 this year, we’ll showcase videos of our participants dumping buckets of ice water on themselves. This year’s participants will have raised money ahead of time among their personal groups of contacts.
The funds raised will go through the Penn State Mont Alto’s student THON team to Four Diamonds to help combat childhood cancer.
#WeAre Penn State Mont Alto alumni and students. And everything we do here is #ForTheKids. #FTK
We talked a lot about the good work being done to put on our annual Plunge event in December. We talked a lot about how far-reaching the impact could be. We talked a lot about why raising that money was good work to do.
We came together, as students and alumni and campus and community. We did well, and we did some good.
There is another opportunity right now to be a hero again. No one may ever know but you; however, we all may see the effect of it if we’re lucky.
Older people. Children fighting cancer. Neighbors with chronic illnesses. They are all more susceptible to COVID-19, the current pandemic threatening the world. They may be friends. They may be family members.
If we physically distance ourselves to the extent we can, we can change the narrative here. We can slow the spread of the virus. That means that the people who do get sick will have a better chance of getting the help they need. And then of recovering.
If we physically distance ourselves to the extent we can, we can still stay connected. We can watch for those who need a hand. We can reach out to help.
It is not time to panic, but it is time to act like the wonderful human beings we know you are. After all, we’ve seen you in action before. Take good care, everyone. Stay safe and healthy. And thank you.
In December, Penn State Mont Alto alumni and students worked together to make a splash. The water and air temperature was 38 degrees, but they didn’t let the cold stop them from jumping all the way into the lake at Cowans Gap State Park in McConnellsburg, Pa.
“Getting in freezing water on a Sunday isn’t most people’s idea of a good time, but they came out with a smile and proudly jumped in so that they could do their part to bring an end to pediatric cancer,” said AJ Stambaugh, Penn State Mont Alto alumnus and Polar Plunge chairman.
Mont Alto student Austin Towner is a senior in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). He found doing the plunge rewarding because he knew he was going into the water for a good cause. “HDFS is a helping major – and that’s what the plunge and THON do,” he said.
The annual Mont Alto Polar Plunge is fairly unique. Penn State Mont Alto students and alumni coordinate the December event to help send student dancers to Penn State’s annual THON in February. THON is a student-run philanthropic dance marathon started in 1973. It is managed by the Four Diamonds Foundation and contributes toward efforts to combat pediatric cancer and support families affected by it. Last year, THON raised $10,621,683.76. All the profits from the Polar Plunge’s efforts go directly to the Mont Alto THON group.
Senior Kirsten Tircek, who is studying health policy administration at Mont Alto, said THON is hard to understand until you go to the event. Seeing the kids dealing with pediatric cancer and visiting with the families is impactful. “Giving all those kids the best opportunity to overcome health challenges and just be kids gives purpose to the fundraising,” said Kirsten, one of four Mont Alto student dancers at THON this year.
By the time they dive in, Polar Plunge participants have raised thousands of dollars to help fight pediatric cancer through support from local businesses, family members, friends, campus faculty and staff. Everyone who helps with the Mont Alto Polar Plunge rallies to support the event any way they can, and volunteers show up in droves to ensure that the work gets done. This year the Polar Plunge sent $13,500 to THON with the Mont Alto student THON group, which raised the third highest amount among all the Commonwealth campuses for THON 2020.
Participants in this year’s event drove from as far away as upstate New York. Most participants and volunteers expressed interest in seeing the event grow and returning for another event in December 2020.
Senior nursing student Keighley Taylor is hopeful that in the future, the event will be huge, and involvement and fundraising will grow.
Matt Berger, president of the Penn State Alumni Association Franklin County Chapter, agrees: “The Franklin County Chapter was very pleased in the increased participation in this year’s polar plunge. This event is a great opportunity for both alumni and students to come together for the common goal of supporting the fight against pediatric cancer. Our hope is that this annual event continues to grow and further support the THON Fundraising efforts for the Mont Alto campus. We have no doubt it will continue to bring our local alumni closer to the students continuing this great tradition.”
Sophomore nursing student Catalina Ruiz was impressed by the partnership with alumni. “You hear all the time about Penn State’s Alumni Association being one of the largest in the world. It’s great to see the impact that the Mont Alto alumni can have by getting involved in projects like the plunge. Students who partner with alumni can more effectively reach more people.”
Jake Schrom, president-elect of the Mont Alto Alumni Society Board of Directors, also admired the unified approach to the work being done. “I always feel a great deal of pride with the collaboration between alumni and students to organize and run the Polar Plunge event. We have built some momentum within the community and am very glad that the funds go to THON.”
Ninety participants raised funds in preparation for the Polar Plunge on December 8, 2019. That’s nearly twice the number who participated in the inaugural plunge in December 2018.
Jacob Zeigler, a sophomore in the mechanical engineering program and a Mont Alto THON dancer this year, said the 2019 plunge was even more exciting than the one in 2018. He will be studying at University Park next year, but he hopes to return for a third Polar Plunge in December 2020.
George Siehl, Penn State Mont Alto alumnus and longtime campus advocate, was pleased to see the increase in the number of student participants. “The second event filled the beach. People everywhere – not just spectators, but people who were plunging. Wave after wave. Literally.”
For the 2019 event, plunge coordinators built a website (montaltoplunge.org/20-news) to help new donors, volunteers and participants connect to resources. Updates on the work being done through the year can be accessed through the Polar Plunge Facebook page and Twitter account. The THON students and Polar Plunge alumni are already planning the 2020 Polar Plunge and will happily help anyone who wants to pitch in by participating, sponsoring, donating, or volunteering. Anything #ForTheKids!
Remember in December when Penn State students and alumni and the community jumped in the lake together? The 2019 Mont Alto Polar Plunge is officially sending $13.5k with the Mont Alto #THON students tomorrow! Congrats, everyone. Great job!
The sponsors banner arrived today, thanks to the excellent work of Graphics Universal Incorporated! We’re excited to unfurl it at the Polar Plunge to say thank you for our sponsors’ generosity. If you’d like to see an updated list of those heroes, visit montaltoplunge.org/sponsors #FTK
We’re less than a week away from our Plunge event, and the shirts have arrived!
Not only are we NOT asking for the shirt off your back, we’re GIVING event shirts to participants who signed up by deadline. (You can still sign up now, or even at the event, we just can’t guarantee a shirt.)
These are such hot items that we sold all of the extras last year. All of them.
We heard feedback from last year’s participants and added the year to this shirt. We also alternated to a different color to mix it up for those of you who plan to plunge every year. Wonder who is going to have the best full collection? We’ll just have to keep planning, and wait and see.
Happy almost #GivingTuesday, everyone! Registration and donation buttons are available on the homepage of this site.
Participants in the December 8 Polar Plunge will inevitably be having conversations around the table this week with friends and family to improve support for their commitment to our event. Post-Thanksgiving activities over the next week or so often include shopping experiences for consumers looking for good value for their dollars spent. Wouldn’t the very best value for a few dollars be helping children and families grappling with pediatric cancer? Supporting the Plunge provides that value – to those families, as well as to those contributing.
Sign-ups can happen at the last minute. In fact, at the park there will be a table for day-of registration. Donations are still welcome. Let’s do good together, and go jump in the lake. For the kids.