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Students participate in Polar Bear Plunge

| Monday, February 8, 2016

With temperatures hovering just around freezing Saturday afternoon, Notre Dame students plunged into St. Joseph’s Lake for Badin Hall’s Seventh Annual Polar Bear Plunge.

Registration for the plunge cost $5, and all proceeds benefit the Hope Initiative, a charity founded by Badin Hall fellow Ann-Marie Conrado, an assistant professor in the department of art, art history and design. Junior Angela Massoud, who oversaw the organization of this year’s plunge, said the event — as well as another of Badin Hall’s fundraisers, Conscious Christmas — raises money for an orphanage and women in Nepal.

“They have an orphanage over in Nepal, so what we’re raising money for is so those kids can go to the good schools in the area,” she said. “We’re supporting women and their jobs in Nepal, so you’re kind of supporting the women’s movement, as well. What we do for Conscious Christmas is they make all their items, so everything we sell at Conscious Christmas is handmade in Nepal and all the proceeds go back to them.”

Senior Chau-Ly Phan, who was in charge of organizing last year’s plunge, said Badin residents who wanted to bring a polar bear plunge event to Notre Dame started the plunge as a way to raise money for the dorm’s signature charity.

“They decided to have the Polar Bear Plunge and make it a fundraiser for Hope Initiative, and it worked out really well,” Phan said. “They planned it as something that would keep going on because you can see on the poster for the first one it says ‘First Annual,’ so they definitely planned it to keep happening.”

Sophomore Casey Valentine said in addition to helping a good cause, students participate in the event to foster a sense of community.

“The cause is attractive to a lot of people,” she said.“I think that Notre Dame is a place with a lot of giving people and people want to support that kind of cause.

“We’re small and the community is so strong in Badin. All of the freshmen are required to go to hall council, and, last year at least, we hyped it up real big at hall council. … It’s really that the upperclassmen love the Polar Bear Plunge so much and everybody thinks the Hope Initiative is such a great cause.”

Phan said participating in the actual plunge is not the only way Badin residents get involved with the event because there the event requires much more planning.

“There’s so many different ways that we get the girls involved,” she said. “We’re like, ‘Here are all the different ways you can be a part of it,’ and the girls choose what they want to do. It’s not like there’s any forcing.”

Part of the planning that goes into the event includes contacting the fire department and making sure each student who plunges signs a required waiver, Massoud said.

“While it’s warm, there are still technically hazards and you would need a lifeguard, and a lifeguard is not going to run into freezing cold water, so we have these firefighters out there in their wading suits,” she said. “We started [planning] as soon as we got back to campus [after winter break], we had the request in, because it’s an outdoor event, there’s hazards involved, there’s a lot of other things that come into play.”

Massoud said students’ motivations for deciding to take the plunge ranged from helping their dorm win the “golden plunger prize” for most participation, to crossing an item off the Notre Dame “bucket list.”

“It’s for a really good cause and it’s one of those typical Notre Dame ‘bucket list items,’” she said. “You try to hit up the cool signature events. How many people really get to say that they’ve done something like this? And it does give you an adrenaline rush.”

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About Courtney Becker

Courtney is a junior from New York City majoring in film, television and theater with a minor in journalism, and currently serving as News Editor. She is a proud resident of Pasquerilla West Hall and a die-hard Pittsburgh Steelers fan.

Contact Courtney