ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS The first of two groups takes to the icy water during Saturday's Schuylkill County polar plunge in Deer Lake to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
More than 1,000 spectators came to watch as 90 people ignored chilly temperatures and jumped into Deer Lake Pond in Deer Lake as part of the Schuylkill County Second Annual Polar Plunge to benefit Make-A-Wish.
"It was cold," said event organizer Denna Krammes, 33, a Tamaqua and Orwigsburg resident, who also serves as team captain for Russo's Pizza Make-A-Wish softball league.
"We wanted to do something to benefit sick kids," she added. "If a Make-A-Wish is the last memory they have, then we are grateful to be part of that."
The plunge last year raised more than $5,000 and organizers expect this year's total to beat that.
"It's for a good cause, it's for the kids," said, Judy Hauch, a league member who also jumped in the cold lake. Some of the participants dove in wearing only boxers while some chose to wear costumes.
Mike Russo, owner of Russo's Pizza and a key sponsor of the event, did not take a swim Saturday, but expressed his appreciation to all who came out. Participants raising $50 each received a 2012 Polar Plunge T-shirt, while those who raised $150 or more also received a beach towel.
The Schuylkill Haven Dive Rescue and Recovery Team was on scene in case of an emergency, as well as Orwigsburg and Auburn ambulances.
Following the plunge, participants and spectators were able to warm up inside the Deer Lake/West Brunswick Township Fire Department, which donated the hall for the event, where there was a food sale, bake sale, chili cook-off and Chinese auction.
"We rely on a lot of people doing good deeds for us, so we wanted to do a good deed for them," John Wagner, president of the Deer Lake/West Brunswick Township Fire Department, said.
According to www.wishgreaterpa.org, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Pennsylvania and Southern West Virginia has granted the wishes of more than 12,500 children since it was established 28 years ago.
Krammes, who currently works at the district magistrates' office in Tamaqua, and previously served as a police officer in Coaldale, McAdoo and Kline Township, expressed her appreciation to all the jumpers, sponsors and spectators who made the event a success.
For more information on how to help, volunteer or donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, visit www.wish.org.
"The teams did a lot of hard work for a lot of good reasons," said Russo. "It is just awesome what they do. They make a lot of wishes come true."