SILVER CREEK – Dozens of people braved the icy waters of Lake Erie Sunday during the annual Silver Creek Polar Bear Plunge for Charity.
Each year Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello and Legislature Dave Wilfong choose a theme and dive in.
“This is my 15th year doing it to benefit Oishei Children’s Hospital, where there is a Silver Creek Polar Bear swim room that is funded with the money from here and there is a lot of kids from Chautauqua County that are treated at Children’s Hospital,” said Borrello. “Every year we try to pick something warrior related and this year we are Scottish Warriors!”
Wilfong said events like this bring the county together, while at the same time, raising money for a great cause.
“Sometimes I will say events in the north county or the south county. Really we need to be one county, and this is a just one way for more to come up and have fun,” said Wilfong. “It is good for people to see their officials no matter where they are at coming together and trying to do good.”
In addition to Oishei Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, the Silver Creek Fire Department, Emergency Squad, Sunset Bay Volunteer Fire Department and the Silver Creek Food Pantry have helped financially through this event.
Borrello said organizers hope to raise thousands of dollars. He said, this year, they seem close to their goal.
“In a small community like this, Silver Creek and the Town of Hanover, we are able to bring out so many people and raise such a large dollar amount that has had an impact on so many charities,” explained Borrello. “I think that is the best part about this.”
Judi Kelly started the plunge over 18 years ago. Kelly said it has become a family tradition jumping in alongside her granddaughter.
“It’s become a special thing with the two of us to go together and raise money together then do this together,” said Judi. “I have a couple more grandchildren who want to do this with me starting next year so we are going to be adding to our family of polar bears.”
One of the biggest fund raisers was Denise Wolnik who raised over $4,000.
“It means a lot to me because of the children,” said Wolnik. “I raise a lot of money in cans returnables, I start from the day I walk out of here.”
A similar, albeit warmer, plunge dubbed the “chicken swim” takes place during the summer to raise even more money.