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Daredevil divers chill out for a good cause

More than $2,000 in pledges raised in Saturday's event will help buy winter fuel for poor people in the Hancock area.

More than $2,000 in pledges raised in Saturday's event will help buy winter fuel for poor people in the Hancock area.

March 07, 2005|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

HANCOCK - C'mon in - the water's ... 33 degrees.

None of the 14 people who jumped into, and as just as quickly out of, the lake at the Tonoloway Rod and Gun Club did it because they like to immerse themselves in freezing cold water. They did it for charity.

The jumpers, the youngest 14 and the oldest 48, raised more than $2,000 in pledge money to help people less fortunate than themselves keep warm this winter.

The money raised goes to the Interfaith Service Coalition's energy assistance program to buy winter fuel for poor people in the Hancock area.

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Debbie Cohill, executive director of the nonprofit United Way agency, said the agency helps about 100 individuals and families every month with its food pantry, emergency medical assistance and eviction prevention programs, among others.

The annual dip into the lake was organized three years ago as a charitable venture by Zachary Burnett and James Wheeler, partners in Pinnacle DJ, a local disc jockey service.

Two women among the 14 polar-dip volunteers, Chrissy Montgomery, 24, and Ginny Munson, 47, both of Hancock, were jumping for the first time Saturday.

"Zach talked me into it," Montgomery said of Burnett.

Munson was doing it on a dare.

"My friends were defying me to do it," Munson said. "They said I was too old."

Burnett and Wheeler cut a 7-foot square hole in the ice at the edge of the dock as a jumping site. The ice was 31/2 inches thick and the water below it about 4 feet deep.

Richard Lilly, 14, of Prince George's County, Md., went in first. He walked up to the edge, jumped and climbed right out, losing his sunglasses in the process.

Bill McCusker, 28, a third-time jumper, followed with a cannonball. He had Lilly's sunglasses in his hand when he emerged.

Stanley Swisher, 28 of Hancock was next. He wore his bravado on his T-shirt, which displayed the message, "Wimps need not apply."

Montgomery held her nose when she jumped, and Munson cannonballed in.

A father and son team from Warfordsburg, Pa., John Barlow, 46, and Jim Barlow, 18, jumped in together. John Barlow is pastor at Warfordsburg Presbyterian Church, and his son is a senior at Southern Fulton High School.

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