At noon Saturday, Jan. 13 the Brigantine Polar Bears' annual plunge into the Atlantic Ocean will take place as rescheduled on the beach in front of Laguna Grill & Rum Bar on 14th Street South.
Through merchandise sales, individual pledges and corporate sponsorship, the event is expected to add substantially to the more than $500,000 it has raised for the Fisher House Foundation since it was started by the Brigantine Polar Bears club 18 years ago.
The day will include live music by the Billy Walton Band and the Amish Outlaws, a costume contest, food and drink sales, and a large-screen outdoor TV for post-plungers to watch the Eagles take on the Falcons in the NFC divisional playoffs at 4:35 p.m. See brigantinepolarbears.com for more.
Another polar plunge is scheduled for later this winter in Brigantine. Friends and members of the Kappa Sigma fraternity chapter at Stockton University will be taking the plunge Sunday, Feb. 18 on the 11th Street North beach, and will also be making Fisher House one of their beneficiaries through an umbrella organization called the Kappa Sigma Military Heroes Campaign.
The campaign has raised more than $1 million for nonprofit organizations that help wounded soldiers and their families since its 2007 founding. College chapters around the nation contributed to that total.
“When I was looking to join a fraternity I wanted to do something that was very community-service oriented,” said Matt Mojica, a junior accounting major who is the chapter's vice president of philanthropy. “I have a background in community service and I felt like I wanted to stay true to that when I joined an organization.”
Mojica said that the Stockton fraternity has been doing a polar-plunge fundraiser since the Kappa Sigma chapter's 2001 founding, with beneficiaries occasionally changing based on where the need was greatest.
“One of the founding brothers started it because his dad was diagnosed with cancer, and he wanted to hold an event to raise money for the American Cancer Society,” Mojica said. “It started as sort of a trial run to see how much interest it would generate, and a lot of people in the Stockton community got involved, and it's grown ever since.”
Last year a Stockton Kappa Sigma fraternity brother was diagnosed with stage-three brain cancer, so the plunge proceeds were earmarked to help him and his family deal with medical bills.
“This year we wanted to go back to the Military Heroes Campaign, because that's our main philanthropy,” Mojica said.
“One of the things I wanted our team to try to increase was having a better alumni presence, and I've been totally shocked and amazed with the success we've had, and the dedication we've seen from them. So many of the brothers have brought valuable resources with their past experiences and their ideas, and so many have been doing what they can to help out.”
Through individual and corporate sponsorships, and a $10 entry fee for anyone who takes the Stockton plunge – which includes an event T-shirt – the fraternity is well on its way to achieving its $8,000 goal.
“The Military Heroes Campaign has been able to bring everyone together and rally around this common cause,” Mojica said, “which is giving back to the people who served our country.”