Two Causes, Two Holidays Beckon Polar Plungers

A Christmas tradition galloped on when intrepid swimmers descended on Mattapoisett Town Beach, showing support for a local facility that brings joy to those with cognitive issues – Helping Hands and Hooves.

            For 19 consecutive years, barring one due to COVID-19, Julie Craig and her team from Helping Hands and Hooves have held a Christmas morning fundraiser in the form of a fun swim or tiny dip into the cold waters at Mattapoisett Town Beach.

            The end goal is to receive donations that help support the therapeutic horseback riding program available to adults who otherwise have aged out of public programs and other agency-related programs. As noted on their website, “therapeutic riding uses equine-oriented activity for the purpose of contributing positively to cognitive, physical, emotional and the well-being of individuals with special needs.”

            But this Christmas Day proved especially difficult with air temperatures hovering around 20 degrees and winds making it feel more like the Arctic.

            Undaunted were some 25 registered “swimmers,” each paying the nominal donation of $15 and receiving for their effort the trophy, a Helping Hands and Hooves T-shirt.

            Craig stated in a follow-up that new programs have been evolving at the home of Helping Hands and Hooves, a working farm located off Aucoot Road. She explained that while the majority of those individuals served enjoy and benefit from the riding program, others can be put off for a vast number of reasons. For those participants, new programs have been added.

            “We have gardening programs for those who want to explore that or art and science opportunities,” said Craig, noting that music has been added to their offerings.

            As for the swimmers, they were in and out of the frigid water in record time, hurrying back to their vehicles but each wearing a wide Christmas Day smile.

            On New Year’s Day, there’s another opportunity to test one’s mettle against the New England winter weather when folks will return to Mattapoisett Town Beach for the Plunging event.

            Group organizer Heather Bichsel explained that after the passing of a dear friend who helped to establish a similar event to collect donations that were distributed to families experiencing the financial burden that a cancer diagnosis oftentimes brings, many supporters wanted to carry on.

            Thusly, in the spirit of giving to others, in the spirit of remembering those who have passed and in the spirit of bringing a bit of joy, Bichsel and her team are ready for the New Year’s Day Plunging.

            Bichsel said that last January they received $2,600 that was distributed to Dana Farber and a local family. She said that Eastern Bank matched $1,300 in donations, bringing the total up to $2,600.

            The run into the water will take place at noon on Sunday, January 1. Come down a bit earlier, Bichsel said, and get a hot chocolate, buy a T-shirt or make a donation, but also come and join in the fun with people who are supporting cancer research and local families.

By Marilou Newell

Leave A Comment...