Why they do it

January 02, 2006|by CANDICE BOSLEY

For Alice McDaniel, jumping into the frigid Potomac River was a way to bond with her father, Ralph Brunner.

McDaniel, 36, moved to Tazewell, Tenn., three years ago.

"One of the ways for my dad and I to keep in touch was to start doing things that we could make really good memories of," she said.

Plus, she said, she wanted to support the Washington County Humane Society - for which the event is a fundraiser.

An animal lover, McDaniel said she left for Tennessee with two cats, but now has six cats and a dog.

"If I can support the SPCA in any way, I do it," she said.

As for the plunge itself, the duo heads into the water together.

"Last year, we held hands and kind of waddled in. This year, because it's so cold, I think we'll hold hands and run in," McDaniel said beforehand.


Like his daughter, Ralph Brunner, 60, of Williamsport, did The Polar Bear Plunge for the second time Sunday.

"I want to see how many years I can do it," he said. "As long as my health stays good, maybe I can do it 'til I'm 100.

"That cold water gets your heart pumping some."

And after jumping into the water?

The duo planned to try their luck with some slot machines - another bonding experience.

"Take a shower, change clothes and head to Charles Town (Races & Slots)," Brunner gave as his post-plunge plan.


That's the reason Karen Shantz said she jumped in the river for a second year.

"We like to do crazy things," she said. "We don't like partying at night New Year's Eve, so I guess this is our craziness."

Shantz, 50, of Falling Waters, W.Va., first took the plunge two years ago, the same year she ran the 50-mile JFK ultramarathon.

"This was the icing on the cake," she said.

Her strategy upon reaching the water is to simply jump in.

"I think the worst part is your feet. They burn," she said.

Her family's post-plunge plan?

"Go to the Sheetz store and get hot chocolate," Shantz said. "Then get the river water off us."

Tom Shantz agreed with his wife that jumping into the Potomac is part-craziness, but he also likes it for another reason.

"Camaraderie with our friends," he said, adding that friends planned to join them.

There's another benefit, too.

"It's bragging rights," he said.

Sunday was the third time Shantz headed into the Potomac. His first time, the event was preceded by firefighters cutting apart ice that had formed in the river.

"The ice cut me all up," Shantz said.

He doesn't fear cold temperatures.

"It actually sounds crazy, but I wish it was colder, so people really think you're crazy," Shantz said.

After plunging, Shantz gave a quick review of the experience.

He said he was one of the first ones in, but felt the pressure from the throng behind him.

"I was trampled," he said.

The Herald-Mail Articles