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2017-02-15 / Arts & Entertainment

Polar Bear Jumpers Gearing Up to Take the Plunge

By Rosie Cunningham


Stamford’s Sean O’Connor takes the leap during the annual Polar Bear Jump in Portlandville. 
Contributed Photo Stamford’s Sean O’Connor takes the leap during the annual Polar Bear Jump in Portlandville. Contributed Photo PORTLANDVILLE - Baby, it’s cold outside and, as of Tuesday, hundreds of people are signed up to take the plunge into ice-cold water on Saturday, Feb. 18, during the annual Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump.

This year, local Delhi resident Ava Sprague is a recipient. The 13-year-old Delaware Academy (DA) eighth grader had a small lump in the hard palate that started to grow. She was diagnosed with BCOR Ewing-like sarcoma. The seven cycles of chemotherapy has begun. She may possibly undergo surgery at a later date.

Ava plays soccer, plays the violin and piano and is in the school chorus. She is described by friends and family as a very caring, loving, generous person.

DA Superintendent Jason Thomson has raised nearly $5,000 for Sprague and he said there is more time for generous contributions. This is the second year the superintendent has taken the plunge, he jumped two years ago for a DA student in need.


Ava Sprague of Delhi, during the Coaches Vs. Cancer basketball benefit at Delaware Academy. Sprague is one of the Polar Bear Jump recipients this year. 
Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter Ava Sprague of Delhi, during the Coaches Vs. Cancer basketball benefit at Delaware Academy. Sprague is one of the Polar Bear Jump recipients this year. Rosie Cunningham/The Reporter “I am very pleased with the support and generosity that has been shown,” said Thomson. “I am looking forward to the jump - it’s a great event for all of the right reasons. I think the event is wonderful and I am one of many who help because every little bit counts. A child should never have to suffer and endure medical complications. It’s a great way for communities to rally together for our children.”

Thomson said the jump itself is “really not that bad.”

“It brings me back to my childhood days,” he said. “Every summer at the Walton pool, we would fill up the spoon bottom pool from water from the West Brook and the first jump of the season was so cold.”

No matter the chill, Thomson said it is well worth it.

“These kids endure so much pain and treatment,” he said. “Jumping is the least I can do.”

Last year records were surpassed as more than 300 jumpers turned out to take the plunge at the 22nd annual Polar Bear Jump. According to Brenda and Jamie Waters, organizers of the jump, $128,000 was raised for local children, individuals and organizations in need.

Participants are hitched to a harness and rope for safety and assistance as they leap off the platforms into the lake two-at-atime.

The event actually kicks off at the end of January, when an auction was held to raise money for jump day expenses. This year’s auction brought in $12,000, which meant 100 percent of donations and proceeds from the actual jump could be given to recipients.

This year, the Portlandville Methodist Church received a share of the money to give donations to the families of Kiony Fernandez, Areyliah Hazard, Ruby Wright, Rosa Lopez-Mejia, Travis McAdams, Joshman Case, Cassidy Howard, Ava Sprague, Amelia Spencer and Branton Lum. Catskill Area Hospice and Springbrook also received donations, as did the Milford Fire Department and EMT, Athelas Therapeutic Riding Inc. & Ainsley’s Angels, Susquehenna Animal Shelter and Police Assisting Addicts Towards Recovery.

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