OXFORD — The first ever Oxford Polar Dip, an event to raise money to enable children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to go to Camp Sunshine, took place on Sunday, March 13, at the Tred Avon Yacht Club. The event officially raised $15,500.
The polar dip kicked off at noon with about 50 participants charging into the 47-degree water of the Tred Avon River. This was the ninth of 10 dips planned across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and the goal is to raise $400,000 total. Participants were required to pledge a minimum of $100 to take part in the dip.
Development Associate for Camp Sunshine Kayley Walker said the money raised in the Oxford dip was enough to send about six families to Camp Sunshine.
“This is our first ever Maryland plunge and this is our first ever plunge into the river,” said Michael Katz, the executive director of Camp Sunshine, who is also participating in all 10 polar dips. “We are a year-round camp that is located up in Maine, but what we are doing here today, the funds we raise are to help Maryland families.”
The funds enable children with life-threatening illnesses and their families to enjoy a week at Camp Sunshine on Sebago Lake free of charge.
Camp Sunshine offers on-site support, and bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness.
“It’s a getaway where a family can just be a family, even if only for a moment,” Katz said.
Many Maryland and Oxford officials were also present to take part in the dip, such as state Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot, state Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid_shore, President of the Oxford Commission Gordon Fronk and Oxford Commissioner Carole Abruzzese.
Teachers and students of the Country School in Easton also took the plunge with Miss Maryland USA for 2016, Christina Denny, who also sang the national anthem before the dip.
The event had a Chicken Dip for people to run into the water up to their ankles and get out. Others could choose to take a full dunk in the river. After the participants finished they received a certificate of completion and complimentary shirts.
John Sutton originally proposed the event to the Oxford Business Association. He said he was inspired by a friend from Oxford who has a daughter with a life-threatening illness, and started using a polar dip to raise money for Camp Sunshine about 13 years ago.
“The uniqueness of this program is that it is about the whole family coming to camp and being able to experience the camp as a family,” Katz said.