By Sandra Zunino
When thousands of participants defy all logic and fling themselves into the icy waters of the Chesapeake for the 15th Annual Polar Bear Plunge, Rams Head Group Vice President and Rams Head Shore House owner Erin McNaboe, will go even further by Super Plunging to raise $10,000 for Maryland Special Olympics.
Three years ago, Ram’s Head Live hosted a fundraising event for the MSP Polar Bear Plunge. Erin says, as an event coordinator, she was so focused on the details of planning the event; the magnitude of its purpose didn’t hit her until she was called on stage with business partner Kyle Muehlhauser and presented a Special Olympics medal as a formal thank you.
“When it was put around my neck, I really got hooked and understood what the event was all about,” says Erin. “I got the chills and my heart overflowed.” At that moment, Erin became committed to the cause and led the Rams Head plunging team with a goal of raising $10,000.
The following year, Rams Head Live not only hosted another fundraiser, it added the Rams Head Ice Lodge – a massive tent erected at Sandy Point State Park, the site of the Plunge – offering live music and refreshments throughout the day.
Rams Head Group collaborated with food and beverage suppliers to get products donated for the tent as well as recruited volunteers who worked in the Ice Lodge. One hundred percent of the Ice Lodge proceeds were donated to Special Olympics and despite the blizzard that raged that day, raised approximately $35,000.
The Ice Lodge will return for this year’s Plunge, which takes place on January 29. Headliner, DJ Pauly D of MTV’s Jersey Shore will do two DJ sets – one pre-Plunge and one after the 3:00 p.m. Plunge.
While Erin worked in the Ice Lodge throughout the day, she was unable to plunge last year. This year she is taking it to the extreme by joining the Super Plunge Team, a group of more than 60 individuals who plan to raise $10,000 each. As a Super Plunger, Erin will sleep on a cot in a tent and jump into the frigid waters 24 times over a 24-hour period.
The Super Plunging Team started in 2004 when Tom Schniedwind and Greg Shipley of Special Olympics Maryland joined Jimmy Myrick, a Special Olympics Maryland athlete attempting to raise $30,000 for the cause. They ended up raising more $50,000 and celebrated their accomplishment by plunging 20 times through the night. Since then, the Super Plunge has raised over $1 million adding celebrity participants and many Special Olympics athletes.
Erin has already reached out to 700 people asking each for an $11 sponsorship and she is almost half way to her goal. “It’s a lot harder than I expected,” she says, “asking for money, especially in this economy, but I really believe in the program.”
With only a few weeks left, she says, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty and start knocking on doors and making phone calls, but is confident she will reach her goal. “I think the amount of positive energy and the safe environment that the Plunge and this whole program creates for the athletes is just inspiring,” says Erin. “It really takes your breath away.”
The Polar Bear Plunge raises funds for Special Olympics Maryland, the state’s largest year-round organization devoted to sports training and competition for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. For more information or to sponsor Erin, visit http://plunge15.kintera.org/erinbrunstmcnaboe.