Jordan Hospital Club Polar Plunge honors cancer patients in Plymouth
PLYMOUTH — The first time the Jordan Hospital Club hosted a polar dip, members weren’t sure if their furry white bear mascot, Jordan, would return from the beach with his tail between his legs.
When Catherine McKenna first proposed fundraising to help the hospital’s cancer center 20 years ago, no one knew if a jump into the ocean on the first Saturday in March would spark any interest.
“We didn’t know if there would be five people or 500,” said Kim Sims, then club president, of the origins of the event.
But hundreds of people, many of whom were spurred on by a desire to honor loved ones who were battling or had lost the disease, donned crazy costumes and jumped into the freezing water off Plymouth beach at the end of winter 2003.
Donations filled four boxes, and when the club was done counting, contributions to the first Jordan Hospital Club Polar Plunge topped $50,000.
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Sims, now a member of the club’s nominating committee, remembers the cheers and tears of joy as the group tallied up the profits. The sense of happiness and community that permeated the divers’ after-party at East Bay Grille made it one of the best days of his life.
“It was really extremely joyful. A lot of people were there because they had family they wanted to represent,” Sims said. “It was so heartfelt.”
Jordan Hospital became BID-Plymouth Hospital, but its cancer center is still Jordan Hospital Cancer Center. And the Jordan Hospital Club Polar Plunge is always a great way for people to honor cancer patients while helping the cancer center help others.
Over the past year, the plunge alone has donated more than $1.5 million to the center, helping it become a hometown healthcare option for area residents who fight disease. Proceeds from the event funded renovations to the center’s chemotherapy room, purchased smart IV pumps, provided education and training programs for nurses, and helped patients with unexpected expenses like childcare. and transportation.
“It changed a lot of lives,” Sims said, noting how the center gave area residents a local option for cancer treatment. “It’s something huge. People no longer need to travel to Boston for treatment.
The pandemic forced the club to take a virtual plunge two years ago. Divers, in teams or individually, have been encouraged to get wet alone in 2020 due to the health crisis.
But the event returned to the ocean last year, and this spring will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a dip on Saturday, March 5 at Nelson Memorial Park. Registration begins at 10 a.m. The dive is at noon. A party follows at the Plymouth Yacht Club.
The Jordan Hospital Club will host a ‘Flannel and Flatbread’ launch event for this year’s 20th anniversary dip from 5-8pm on Tuesday, January 25 at the Uva Wine Bar in downtown Plymouth. The outfit is flannel. Flatbreads will be served.
Sims said the kickoff looked like a celebration of great efforts over the years while preparing for another dip.
This year, Jordan Hospital Club Board Member Shelly Phillips will work with anyone interested in creating a tapestry to commemorate 20 years of diving.
Thousands of people have participated in the event over the past two decades. Many have dived again and again, alone or in groups. More than 500 people have taken the plunge a year.
Before the COVID lull, the event had become so popular that people started strategizing for dives. The group would be so large that veteran divers knew to position themselves at the back of the line, to make sure they didn’t have to wait too long for others to come out of the cold water.
The event has come a long way since that first dip in fundraising and logistics.
The dip still includes food and festivities before and after, but for several years now the dip has occurred in the calmer waters and smoother sand off Nelson Beach in Plymouth Harbour. And registration and fundraising has also become a smoother online operation.
Individuals and teams can pre-register at https://www.jordanhospitalclub.org/events/event-two-x33ff-rxy4m. Anyone can pledge donations to a diver, a team or the cause in general through the same website.
This year’s effort is off to a good start, thanks to an anonymous donation in memory of the late June Hamilton Withington. Withington was a longtime member of the Jordan Hospital Club and worked on the dive for more than a decade before his death in 2019.