Hundreds of folks will jump in the freezing waters of Lake Anne to treat severely ill children and their families to a life-changing experience at Camp Sunshine in Maine
Hundreds of people dressed in hilarious costumes will gather on February 3 to make a life-changing splash in the icy waters of Lake Anne in Reston. Gail Toth, founder and coordinator of the Annual Freezin’ For a Reason Virginia Polar Dip, said that the goal this year is to raise $100,000, which will allow 40 children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to spend a week at Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine, where they will experience the joy of sharing fun activities that provide respite, support and hope. Funds raised at the Polar Dip will support families throughout the Mid-Atlantic area, including Virginia, Maryland, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Carolina.
Since 2008 Freezin’ For a Reason Virginia Polar Dip has raised over $700,000 and sent over 300 families to Camp Sunshine.
All are invited to participate in this wonderful cause: Individuals, teams and families often support specific loved ones, but others support the cause in general. And for those who don’t want to jump but still would like to help, they can do the Chicken Dip and make a splash by only dipping their feet. All participants who raise at least $100 will receive a highly coveted “I DID IT” event t-shirt!
Costumes, regular clothing or bathing suits are all welcomed.
The event will start at noon with registrations and music by Danny DJ. At 2:00pm, jumpers will start taking the dip. The popular morning show personality Chilli Amar of WASH-FM will emcee the event once again. Tropical Smoothie Café will, as they have every year, donate beach towels to the brave participants as they get out of the lake, and Ella Pedicab will give rides to participants and spectators around the Plaza before the event; participants can also catch a ride after the splash to the Reston Community Center, where they can change their clothes.
There will be an after-party at the Reston Community Center for the participants to warm up and enjoy refreshments and snacks by Kalypso’s Sport Tavern. Also, between 12-4:00pm Kalypso’s Sports Tavern will donate 10% of all sales at the restaurant to Virginia Polar Dip. Small Change Consignments will be giving away hats, gloves and scarves to anyone who jumps (while supplies last) and help with costumes to those who don’t have one. They will also hold their annual one-day-only, half-price toy sale with prices up to 70% below retail price.
“I am extremely grateful and humbled by the amount of support and generosity of the entire community through their support of this event, their willingness to jump in freezing water, their donations, and their compassion for helping others in need,” said Toth. “It takes many people all doing their part to make this event the success it is year after year.”
Freezin’ For a Reason Virginia Polar Dip was founded in 2008 by the Toth family after a long history with Camp Sunshine. They first attended Camp Sunshine as a participating family in 1996 when their daughter Jennifer was a cancer patient at age 3, and they have returned as volunteers every summer since. They started the Virginia Polar Dip to raise funds to send local families to Camp Sunshine.
“I have seen over and over again how entire families are affected when a child is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness,” said Jennifer, today a cancer survivor and a Pediatric Oncology Nurse. “Camp Sunshine recognizes that burden and provides a fun and supportive environment for families to enjoy normal camp activities surrounded by other families who understand the challenges they face. Camp Sunshine was an important source of support to my family after my cancer diagnosis and treatment, and being able to help other families experience the magic of Camp Sunshine is our way of ‘paying it forward.’”
Each year, Jennifer takes the plunge with a group of friends dressed up in thematic costumes, and her sister, Juliana, is also a repeat polar jumper.
“When a child has a life-threatening illness, the entire family is affected,” said Jeff Johnson, who every year participates with his family at the Virginia Polar Dip. “Camp Sunshine offered all of us a wonderful opportunity for respite as a family and gave us a break from hospital and clinic visits. Not only did we enjoy excellent meals and entertainment, but our daughter was able to play with other children going through similar health challenges, while my wife, Sharon, and I were able to spend time with other parents dealing with childhood cancer.”
His daughter, Amanda, won her battle with cancer, and he and his family have started volunteering at Camp Sunshine and at the Virginia Polar Dip.
“It has been very encouraging to watch the event grow each year and to see the community rally around this great cause,” added Jennifer. “We hope this year will be the biggest and most successful yet so that we can send even more families to Camp Sunshine!”
SPONSORS OF THE 11TH FREEZIN FOR A REASON VIRGINIA POLAR DIP
Tropical Smoothie Café
ARM Integrated Communications, David Madison Photography, WASH-FM, Kalypso’s Sports Tavern, and Dulles Greenway
Salon Khouri, Fairfax Christian School, Lake Anne Village Center, and Manor Works Painting
Polar Dip Partners:
Fairfax County Cold Water Dive Team, Loebig Chiropractic, Reston Community Center, Reston Association, EagleBank, Small Change Consignments, Elite Fitness Concepts, and Doggy Trains
What: 11th Annual Freezin’ For a Reason Virginia Polar Dip
When: Saturday, February 3rd, 2018 (Rain or shine. It will be rescheduled if a major snowstorm is forecast.)
Where: Lake Anne Plaza, 1609 Washington Plaza, Reston, VA 20190
Time: 12:00pm: Music, registrations, and pedicab rides.
Donation: $100 minimum per person to plunge. Free for spectators.
Website and registration: http://bit.ly/2lOYvGE
ABOUT CAMP SUNSHINE
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness. Camp Sunshine’s program is offered year-round and has the distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness.
Photo credit: DavidMadisonPhotography.com