MOOSIC — Stephanie Schofield is the president of Friends of Shannon McDonough, a local non-profit that provides financial and emotional support to young residents of Northeastern Pennsylvania ages 16-25 who are battling cancer. Schofield, who also organizes the Jan. 30 Splashin’ for Compassion Polar Plunge at Montage Mountain, met the organization’s namesake on their first day at Scranton High School and the two built their friendship on a foundation of conversation and bubble gum.
“I asked her after class if she wanted a piece of gum and she said sure so I gave her a piece of gum and talked her ear off,” Schofield, now 29, said. “A couple months down the road she told me she remembered me and we talked on the phone that whole night, even through dinner, and we were best friends until she passed away from colon cancer at 23.”
According to Schofield, McDonough battled Crohn’s disease from a young age and, when she encountered a new enemy in colon cancer, she “faced it gloriously.” Schofield thought her friend was going to make it, but Shannon died in 2009. Schofield said she, Shannon and their friends were known as the “12 pack,” and after their friend passed the remaining 11 refused to let her memory die.
“When we were all growing up we all got T-shirts made for St. Patrick’s Day and when Shannon passed away we decided to start selling them to friends and family because so often people would say how they liked our shirts,” Schofield said. “We thought if we could make a couple extra bucks then we’d donate it to friends and family who are going through cancer because, unfortunately, it’s very common in our area.”
After Friends of Shannon McDonough finished its third year of Shannon’s Shimmering Shamrocks T-shirt sales, the members of the non-profit began to consider other methods of fundraising. Shannon’s uncle, Gene McDonough, had a suggestion which he prefaced with “you’re going to think it’s crazy.” He was right; he suggested they try a polar plunge and Schofield questioned his sanity.
“You couldn’t pay me to jump into the water,” Schofield said. “He’s part of a dive team and he and a bunch of guys travel around to different polar plunges; he said it’s a thing people like to do. We decided to go with the idea and our first year we raised a little over $9,000. Last year we raised close to $9,000 again.”
This year’s goal for the Splashin’ for Compassion plunge is $10,000 and according to Schofield, who serves as event organizer for the plunge and president Friends of Shannon McDonough, all of it goes into the hands of Northeastern Pennsylvania residents between the ages of 16 and 25 who are currently battling cancer. Registration for the Saturday, Jan. 30 plunge at Montage Mountain Resort is $35 and runs from 9 to 11 a.m. Plungers can plunge from 11:05 a.m. until 1:50 p.m., at which point baskets will be raffled and costumes will be judged.
Spectators can watch for free (and bring children for a mini plunge and face painting station), but only the plungers will have a chance to grab rings at the bottom of the pool that will contain gift cards for local businesses. Montage Mountain will also offer specials at their outdoor ice bar, located next to the plunge pool, and a special $35 lift pass will be available Jan. 30 that’s valid from noon until 10 p.m.
For more information about the local non-profit Friends of Shannon McDonough, visit friendsofshannonmcdonough.com.
Polar plungers unable to make the Jan. 30 Montage Mountain dive have other opportunities to go freezin’ for a reason.
- Winola Rotary Club will host a Polar Plunge at Lake Winola to benefit the family of William and Allasondra Dixon. The Dixons’ daughter, Evelyn, was diagnosed with Spina Bifida myelomeningocele, a birth defect affecting the brain and spinal cord. The Jan. 31 plunge will be held at 1 p.m and costs $35 per jumper. Costumes are welcome. For more information and printable registration forms, visit the “Polar Bear Plunge #Eviestrong Fundraiser” event page on Facebook or email [email protected] “We’re going to have a tent there, outside we’re going to have some New England clam chowder and there’s a bar/restaurant right across the street which they’ll be providing beverages and food as well,” said Lake Winola Rotary Vice President Art Collbaugh. “Folks who purchase a ticket to do the plunge will get food, drink and a shirt.
- St. Joseph Regional Academy will also hold a plunge Jan. 30; the third Annual Be Cool For Our School Polar Plunge from 9 a.m. to noon at Mauch Chunk Lake, 625 Lentz Trail in Jim Thorpe. Plungers can register for $35 and “chickens” can register as a gesture without being required to plunge. Every person registered will receive a shirt. Spectators can watch for free. Hot beverages will be available for purchase. To register, visit sjracademy.org and choose “Polar Plunge” from the left-hand menu.
- Plungers can enter Lake Wallenpaupack from Lighthouse Harbor Marina’s shore at 969 Route 507, Greentown at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. Registration is $25 and proceeds benefit two of the lake’s local dive and rescue teams. For more information, phone 570-857-0220 or visit LightHouseHarbor.com.
- On Saturday, Feb. 13, Camelback Resort at 301 Resort Drive in Tannersville will hold an event to raise money for Special Olympics New Jersey and support their polar plunge team in advance of their participation in the Feb. 20 plunge in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. This isn’t a polar plunge, but it’s a way to support a team of plungers. The event runs from noon until 8 p.m. Feb. 13 and will feature a DJ, games, live music and a raffle. For more information, phone (570) 629-1661 or visit GoPlunge.com.