Polar plunge

Grandfather and granddaughter James Tucker and Laken Hilburn splash around during the sixth annual Polar Plunge for charity Saturday morning in Piedmont.

PIEDMONT — Conditions weren’t quite polar, but that didn’t keep about 50 “plungers” from hitting the cold water Saturday at the Piedmont Aquatic Center during its sixth annual Polar Plunge.

Teresa Dyer walked the edges of the pool taking pictures of her husband and daughter after they had taken the jump. By so doing they were just two of the people who, with a $10 per person "entry" fee, helped raise money for a nonprofit called Venecia’s Foundation, named for Venecia Butler, a local resident who died of cancer in 2015.

The group raises money to assist area cancer patients; for example, Dyer, 37, who was diagnosed with cancer last year, received on her first day of treatment a gift bag from the foundation containing all sorts of comforting gifts and a gas card to defray some of the travel expenses according to Teresa’s husband, Toby Dyer.

”She did the 5K while she was going through chemo so we decided we would come down here, me and my little girl,” Teresa’s husband said.

Teresa’s daughter, Kylie, 12, said after getting out of the water into the 40-something degree air, “It was cold, when you come up from the water, you’re like, ’AHHHHH!’”

“Just happy that we’re doing it for mommy,” the daughter said.  

After her family was out of the water Teresa said it was great.

“Very blessed, very blessed to be here,” she said.

Organizer Randa Carroll said her sister, the nonprofit’s namesake, was able to take the icy plunge herself the first two years.

Carroll said Venecia was very sick from chemo the the last year she took the plunge.

“She got here right at the last minute, she said, ‘If they can do this for me then I can go in for them,’” Carroll said.

Before the event Carroll told participants of the nonprofit’s accomplishments from the previous year and a heartfelt message to her sister.

“We miss our leader every day when we do this, she’s looking down I hope and getting a glimpse of this,” Carroll said.

Carroll said that last year, Venecia’s Foundation delivered 212 bags and gave out $11,700 in gas cards to area cancer patients.

Piedmont Mayor Bill Baker, 69, who came up with the idea of the Polar Plunge, said it was his sixth time to get soaked for a good cause.

“It’s a great day to take a plunge, a little cool but you know, it’s January so what do you expect?” Baker said. Baker said he appreciated the efforts of the city crews to get the pool ready for Saturday’s plunge.

Weaver Mayor Wayne Willis, 55, looked like he was dressed for the beach wearing a Hawaiian shirt with hula dancers, straw hat, sunglasses and shorts.

Willis said he and the Piedmont mayor have a common rivalry and always try to “one up each other.” When Baker asked him to the plunge this year he had a condition.

“I’ll do it but I’ll only do it if you do a cannonball in the deep end with me,” Willis said.

The pair jumped in after the countdown and swam as quickly as they could to get out of the pool with agonized expressions on their faces.

“It feels like pins and needles when you first hit it. The worst part is when you get out and that wind hits you. I was colder when I got out than when I was in,” Willis said.


​Staff writer Bill Wilson: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @bwilson_star.