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Law students support spouse’s polar bear jump, charity

Gales, Kate | Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Although it’s been pretty chilly in Indiana lately, South Bend proves more hospitable to leprechauns then the 21-degree water of Alaska’s Resurrection Bay.Tom Redmond, husband of Notre Dame law student Sonja Redmond, tested the waters himself – in a leprechaun costume, no less – to raise money for the American Cancer Society. Tom leapt with 33 others in Seward, Ala. and raised over $750 dollars for charity.Appropriately named “Polar Bear Jump-Off,” the fundraiser took place Jan. 17.”Basically, it’s a bunch of insane people getting together to jump in icy cold water in the middle of January,” Sonja said of her husband’s leap. This is his fourth year participating in the event.Tom chose to dress as a leprechaun in acknowledgement of the Notre Dame law students who gave generously to the cause. Sonja made the costume while home over Christmas break.”I asked them to support his insanity – and the American Cancer Society,” she said. “Students contributed and helped make it possible for him to [participate]… and be our mascot this year.” According to the Seward Chamber of Commerce, the first Polar Bear Jump-Off was held in 1986. It has since grown into a statewide winter festival where the main event is still the jump, in which all participants are required to wear costumes. “We live 80 miles from Seward,” Sonja said, “and when I called my husband on Saturday to offer moral support, he said the temperature at our house was reading -31 degrees.” “The water is so cold, they keep Coast Guard Divers in the water in heated suits the whole time … in case a jumper should experience distress and be unable to get back out of the water [unassisted],” she said.”Everyone wanted to stroke him for Irish good luck,” said Sonja. “He was on the evening news in Anchorage three nights in a row.” She said the organization was expected to raise $75,000 to $80,000 from the jumpers. “It’s courage or insanity – one or the other.”