2014 marked the 5th annual Special Olympics of NJ Polar Bear Plunge as a unified team CAT Crew. This weekend has been particularly amazing for many reasons, but mostly because I can't even begin to tell you the emotions I have been feeling as I look back at the people that were a part of our "crew". Through the years, we have had a core group of friends and family who have plunged in honor of Colin and continue to do so every year. On top of that, we always are so lucky to have new members to join each year and I always love to see the connections that cause them to join.
As we currently stand for 2014, CAT Crew (all 55 members) have raised an amazing $39,580 for the Special Olympics making our grand total for the past 5 years just over $201,000. I am humbled, I am grateful, and I think it's pretty darn awesome. When Colin was born, Chris and I were so scared of the unknown and we had no idea what the future would hold but we could never have imagined at that time what Colin has been able to do in such a short period of time.
We were so lucky this year as the weekend was absolutely beautiful, especially considering the kind of winter we have had so far. Off the beach, the temperatures were in the 50s and the sun was shining. The ocean water was around 34 degrees which was definitely felt even just as you made your way onto the beach. After registering and gathering our incentives, some of our family and friends were actually able to tailgate in a parking lot and enjoy the beautiful weather.
In years past, we have always been able to gather as a team in a spot for breakfast, but due to the fire in Seaside Heights this year on the boardwalk, our usual location was not open. A lot of our team took advantage of some of the festivities that were going on and we met some of the team members in a spot just off of the boardwalk.
Eventually, we made our way to the beach to set up in our usual spot. It is an amazing sight to be on the beach and just look around. This year brought record numbers once again as there were over 5,000 plunger and 25,000 spectators on hand. Because of some of the repairs that have been ongoing to the roads in and out of Seaside Heights as a result of Hurricane Sandy, there were actually tons of people who never made it in time because of the massive traffic backup into the town.
Some of my most favorite moments surrounding the plunge comes on the beach as the team starts to arrive and gather together. It is a mix of people that makes up our family, friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends, coworkers, past and present STUDENTS of mine (and THEIR friends...and one girl's mom even plunged!), and this year included a special group of people, Colin's "team" from school. Colin's former case manager, speech therapist, occupational therapist, and physical therapist (who actually couldn't attend the plunge) all joined the team this year and many more from his school helped to raise money for our team. That just goes to show you how lucky we are to have such a group of people who love Colin and support us in many ways.
The Special Olympics of NJ Polar Bear Plunge was another amazing year because of amazing people inspired by a pretty amazing little boy that Chris and I are honored to call our son.
** Photo credits belong to one of my closest friends, Jorie, whose idea created CAT Crew. Thank you Jorie! We love you! **