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Carroll County Teams Prepare for Saturday's Polar Bear Plunge

The 17th Annual Maryland Polar Bear Plunge will take place tomorrow at Sandy Point State Park.

Some people just write a check. Others prefer to plunge into the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay in January to raise money and awareness for Special Olympics of Maryland.

Carroll County will be well represented at Saturday's 17th Annual MSP Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis.

Rachel Dembeck, 28, of Sykesville is participating in her 11th Polar Bear Plunge event this year. She said she participates in the event because she works with kids in special education programs at Cedar Lane School in Howard County.

"We all take the plunge for these great kids in and around the special ed programs," Dembeck told Patch.

Her current team, "PolarBearies" was formed in 2008 and she said the team of 25 plungers rents a bus each year and a a friend "Charlie" volunteers his time to drive them to Sandy Point. 

"Nothing prepares you for what you are gonna feel," Dembeck said. "It's crazy cold and feels like tons of needles going into your legs. Usually we try to stay in long enough for the photos but even after two or four minutes, my legs are killing me and I'm ready to collapse."

Click here to visit the donation page for Team PolarBearies.

Alyssa Ray from Hampstead will be plunging for her second time this year and she said, "hopefully there won't be snow."

Ray said that she plunges because her uncle has Down Syndrome and was a Special Olympics athlete.

"I believe that his participation in the Special Olympics played a major part in his development by making him feel successful through ... participating in team and individual sports," Ray said.

The most exciting part of the Plunge, according to Ray, is the moment right before running into the water.

"The best thing to do to prepare is just grab a teammate's hand, take a deep breath, and get a running start," Ray said.

Part of Team Earflaps, Ray said the only rule for team members is the requirement to wear earflaps when plunging into the water.

"Running into water that cold is something you have to experience for yourself to really understand what it's like," Ray said. "I can tell you this: the cold goes straight to your bones."

Click here to visit the donation page for Team Earflaps.

Husband and wife Chad and Christine Blubaugh of Sykesville will brave the frigid waters together as part of team EMC. Although they raised money for team EMC last year, Christine said this is the first time they will take the plunge.

Christine said she and her husband are motivated to participate because they both grew up with family members who faced some sort of developmental or physical challenge.

"These children and young and older adults need this support," Christine said.  "So although I am terrified to hit that water, we are doing it!"

The MSP Polar Bear Plunge will take place on Jan. 26 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. with mass plunges at 1 and 3 p.m.

The National Weather Service is forecasting Saturday to be sunny and 33 degrees.

A minimum of $50 in pledges (or as a personal donation) is required in order to participate in the Maryland Polar Bear Plunge but spectators and festival-goers are welcome to attend the event free of charge.

To learn more visit the Maryland Plunge website.

Are you plunging or attending the Polar Bear Plunge as a supporter Saturday? Tell us in comments.

Melissa Mannino January 25, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Myself, Melissa Mannino (formely an Eldersburg resident) will be plunging with my team this year "Carroll Countys Crazy Caribous". This is my 7th year plunging and my 4th year with having my own team. I look forward to this event every year, its for a great cause and its so much fun. Looking forward to plunging with some new team mates this year :) See you guys tomorrow !!!
Kym Byrnes (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 02:22 PM
Good luck to all the plungers! I will freeze vicariously through you :) Be safe and thanks for being such a significant piece of this really important cause.
Buck Harmon January 25, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Great job girls..! hope your goosebumps will be turned into CASH!
Lisa Rossi (Editor) January 25, 2013 at 02:53 PM
Such a cool event. Good luck to everyone!

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