Bear facts! Plunge 2015 one for the record

Members of the Collins family from Selbyville - Scott (wearing hat), and daughters Jillian (at his right (at his left) Kathryn and Makenzie - take the plunge  in Sunday's Lewes Polar Bear Plunge. (Sussex County Post/Glenn Rolfe).

Members of the Collins family from Selbyville – Scott (wearing hat), and daughters Jillian ( left), Kathryn and Makenzie – take the plunge in Sunday’s Lewes Polar Bear Plunge.
Special to the Sussex County Post

REHOBOTH BEACH – NFL has its super spectacle.

New Orleans has Mardi Gras.

Special Olympics Delaware has both – and they are staged simultaneously on the same day.

Amid a carnival-like atmosphere along a crowded Boardwalk that perhaps resembled Rehoboth Beach on the Fourth of July, records were shattered Sunday in the 24th Lewes Polar Bear Plunge.

A record 3,325 participants of all ages, shapes and sizes braved 41-degree air temperature and plunged into the 37-degree water, raising a record $780,000 for the 3,700 children and adults who participate in Special Olympics Delaware.

Among those who took the Plunge: Selbyville Police Chief Scott Collins and his three daughters, Jillian, 9, Kathryn, 13, and Makenzie, 15. For several members of the Collins family, it marked their fourth dip in the Polar Bear Plunge.
“We had volunteered with Special Olympics a few years ago, and one year I was lucky enough to be the chairman for Law Enforcement for Special Olympics – and that kind of encouraged us to finally go and jump in the water,” said Mr. Collins. “And once you do it the first time, you are hooked.”

A large contingent of Delawareans took the Plunge, along with many from beyond the First State’s border.
Due to a snowy forecast for Northeastern Pennsylvania, 74-year-old Carole Antolik, hailing from the Wilkes-Barre area, went into the water several hours before the official 1 p.m. Plunge.

“I have to leave; we are expecting 10 inches of snow there,” said Ms. Antolik, whose connection and passion for Special Olympics is her husband’s family ties to Lewes.

It was her 14th Lewes Polar Bear Plunge, and Lord willing Ms. Antolik will be back next year for No. 15.
“This must be my calling,” said Ms. Antolik. “They (individuals with disabilities) are very special people. They are God’s special people.”

For many, the Plunge affords an opportunity to “dress” for the occasion.

Brothers from Wilmington, Eric Barrowclough and Jason Barrowclough literally had the blues.

Dressed as Jake and Elwood, they roamed the Rehoboth Boardwalk as the Blues Brothers, fulfilling numerous Kodak moments before shedding their suits, hats and sunglasses and taking the Plunge in swim attire.

“We decided to dress in costume today, and come out and have some fun,” said Eric Barrowclough, a pharmacy technician who made his 11th Plunge.

Wilmington, Delaware's version of the Blues Brothers - Jason Barrowclough, left, and Eric Barrowclough, right - pose with Wilkes-Barre, Pa. resident Carole Antolik Sunday during the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge. Ms. Antolik took her 14th Plunge, several hours early with 10 inches of snow  in the forecast for Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was the 13th Plunge for Jason Barrowclough; and 11th for brother Eric.

Wilmington, Delaware’s version of the Blues Brothers – Jason Barrowclough, left, and Eric Barrowclough, right – pose with Wilkes-Barre, Pa. resident Carole Antolik Sunday during the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge. Ms. Antolik took her 14th Plunge, several hours early with 10 inches of snow in the forecast for Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was the 13th Plunge for Jason Barrowclough; and 11th for brother Eric.

It was Jason Barrowclough’s 13th Plunge into the Atlantic Ocean.

“Yes, we’re on a mission from God – to help Special Olympics,” said Eric Barrowclough.

On land, Claymont resident Irv Levin and helpers sought donations for the Levin Family Matching Fund; this was the 11 consecutive year Mr. Levin and wife Phyllis have matched every dollar donated.

Their efforts Sunday were boosted initially by a $1,500 donation.
Near the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk Bandstand, high school students from Delaware through the Project Unify Cool Schools Initiative manned tables, inviting spectators to sign a banner with a pledge to “Spread the Word to end the word” in eliminating the use of the derogatory, demeaning R-word.

BEAR FACTS:
• With Sunday’s tally, more than $8.3 million has been raised in the 24-year history of the Lewes Polar Bear Plunge;
• More than 2,000 Polar Bears have now participated in the Plunge in 13 years consecutive years;

Lexie Brown of Bear, DE., makes a contribution to the Levin Family Matching Fund on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk at Sunday's 24th Lewes Polar Bear Plunge supporting Special Olympics Delaware. Collecting donations is Bill Drake. All money donated was matched by Irv and Phyllis Levin, whose son participates in Special Olympics Delaware.

Lexie Brown of Bear, DE., makes a contribution to the Levin Family Matching Fund on the Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk at Sunday’s 24th Lewes Polar Bear Plunge supporting Special Olympics Delaware. Collecting donations is Bill Drake. All money donated was matched by Irv and Phyllis Levin, whose son participates in Special Olympics Delaware.• All Special Olympics Delaware staff members take the Plunge – traditionally a day or two before Plunge Sunday – as do more than 50 Special Olympics and hundreds of family members;

• The first Plunge held in 1992 (then in Lewes) featured 78 participants who raised $7,000;

• Lewes Polar Bear Plunge is presented by Wawa (which offered free hot chocolate), and supported by DE Law Enforcement for Special Olympics, Delmarva Broadcasting Company, Jack Lingo Realtor, Cape Gazette, Atlantic Sands Hotel, the Lewes Polar Bears and WBOC 16/Fox 21 Delmarva.

 

 

 

 

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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