When polar bear plungers sign on to take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of winter, they take a gamble on the weather.
With the wind chill making it feel like 14 degrees on the beach on Saturday, February 4 and the ocean temperature a shockingly cold 42 degrees, the brave souls who participated in Saturday's Valentine Plunge in Manasquan, New Jersey gambled and lost.
But the Joan Dancy and PALS Foundation that works on behalf of people with Lou Gehrig's Disease came out the winner.
In its 11th year now raising money for the fight against Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, the event drew hundreds of intrepid plungers to the beach in a show of support for those battling the so-far incurable degenerative neurological disease.
"Everybody was ready to go," said plunger Frank Desimini of Waldwick. "They were freezin' for a reason."
Like others who took the plunge, Desimini said that as cold as Saturday was, it wasn't nearly as frigid as last year's event, when the air temperature was below zero and the water temperature didn't feel much warmer.
That year, plungers were urged not to go in the water, but hardly anyone heeded that advice, he said.
"If people with ALS wake up every day in pain, we can deal with 15 minutes of pain," said Desimini, who's attended all 11 Valentine Plunges.
Among the more than 600 kind-hearted masochists was Clancy's Crew, a group of friends, relatives, colleagues and supporters of Michael Clancy, a 39-year-old lieutenant with the Monmouth County Prosecutor's Office who was diagnosed in August with the disease.
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