Paying It Forward With A Splash

It was a chillier start to the New Year than usual for some area residents.  On Tuesday, January 1, 2013, almost 100 people plunged into the water at the Mattapoisett Town Beach, as part of a fund-raiser to benefit a local non-profit.

The plunge was organized by Michelle and William Huggins of Mattapoisett.  Will was diagnosed with colon cancer several years ago and recovered.  Then he discovered his cancer had returned to his colon and spread to his liver.  After several surgeries, lengthy chemo treatments, and a host of examinations, Huggins is cancer-free and on the mend.

During his treatments, the Huggins family benefited from a financial donation made by the New Bedford non-profit, BAM Foundation, which was founded by cancer survivor and Huggins family friend, Alycia Halle.

“I had breast cancer.  I wanted to help people with unexpected expenses,” said Halle.  “There are a lot more out-of-pocket expenses than people realize.  The money we provide goes toward gas, it goes toward daycare, or food.”

The New Year plunge, “Freezin’ For A Reason,” was a way to pay the favor forward, Huggins-style.

“I think it far exceeded our expectations,” said Michelle.  “It feels like humanity elevated.  People are good and they usually want to help, but sometimes don’t know how.  This is an easy way to pay it forward.”

Hundreds of people attended the plunge, with almost 100 diving in, some in costumes and masks.  Seven local businesses made various donations to the plunge, from food to heaters to the tent.  A donation bucket was put out in the tent where they also sold “Freezin’ For A Reason” t-shirts.  All the proceeds from the event will go to benefit BAM.

Will, a Mattapoisett native and ORR graduate, was overwhelmed by the turn-out and the spirit of the community around him.

“It gives me goosebumps,” said Huggins.  “This really woke me up to a new aspect of life.  My wife and I decided to make this part of our mission now.  This is a really special community.  This is my home.  It’s amazing, that’s all I can say.”

Huggins plans on making the New Year plunge an annual event, citing the strong show of support from the community and his desire to help BAM, Foundation continue to help South Coast families affected by cancer.

“We’re going to need a bigger tent next year, though, I think” he said.

By Eric Tripoli

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