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Make-A-Wish volunteers ready for Plunge

Fundraiser aims to raise $25,000 to grant wishes

Published: Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 7:00 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Photo courtesy of Make-A-Wish Illinois Foundation)
Organizers are in the process of getting teams signed up for the second annual Penguin Plunge, a benefit for Make-A-Wish Illinois. The goal is to grant wishes to roughly five children, which will need $25,000 raised.

The goal for last year’s Ottawa Penguin Plunge was to grant one child a wish through the Make-A-Wish Illinois Foundation. Surpassing expectations, the event raised enough to grant two children’s wishes.

“Local organizers are looking to top last year’s success,” said Tammy Barry of Heritage Harbor Ottawa.

According to Barry, organizers and sponsors are aiming to raise enough funds during the Jan. 19, 2013, Ottawa Penguin Plunge to grant wishes to as many children as possible through Make-A-Wish, a goal of roughly $25,000. It costs approximately $6,000 for Make-A-Wish to grant each wish to a child.

For the second year in a row, the Penguin Plunge at Heritage Harbor Marina is sponsored by Heritage Harbor, Quest Watersports, Tracy’s Boat House and Ottawa Firefighter’s Local 523.

Prior to the event, willing participants collect donations for Make-A-Wish Foundation until the jump date. The participants then plunge into the frigid Illinois River waters while spectators cheer them on. Last year, hundreds of spectators cheered on the more than 85 plungers.

“Last year was a huge success and we want to make the same impression this year,” Barry said. “Make-A-Wish is a great organization. Seeing the joy it brings these children and their families is so worth it, and we know the Ottawa community will come out once again this year to make it happen.”

Now is the time to sign up for the 2013 Ottawa Penguin Plunge, Barry adds. Sign up forms — as well as event updates — can be found and followed at HHO’s official Facebook page at Heritage Harbor Ottawa. There is also an official Penguin Plunge event page.

Same-day registration for the event will start on the plunge day at noon, Jan. 19, 2013. The actual plunge kicks off at 2 p.m. Pre-registration is encouraged, and it comes with a perk. Every person that raises a minimum of $100 and pre-registers will receive a free, long-sleeve Penguin Plunge T-shirt.

Tracy’s Boat House will have free hot chocolate and cookies to warm everyone up. And along with the treat of watching locals take the cold plunge, spectators can also enjoy live music from 1 to 4 p.m.

This year, the spotlight will also shine on standout Penguin Plunge participants. According to Barry, this year prizes will be awarded to Top Individual Fundraiser, Top Team Total and Best Team Spirit. Also, any team that achieves more than $1,000 in donations will receive a plaque acknowledging their effort.

“It’s a moving event, and it’s not possible to complete without everyone in the Heritage Harbor, Ottawa and Illinois Valley community who continually come out,” Barry said. “It’s says something about our community’s character.”

Make-A-Wish started in 1980 with seven-year-old Christopher James Greicius. He was being treated for leukemia and dreamed of being a police officer. His wish was granted, which included spending the day as an honorary officer. Since then, Make-A-Wish has granted more than 240,000 wishes.

The nonprofit’s goal is to grant wishes — whatever they may be — to children with life-threatening illnesses to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.

For more Ottawa Penguin Plunge information or to pre-register a team, contact Tammy Barry at tammyb@heritageharborottawa.com or (815) 433-5000.

Penguin Plunge teams and participants can register for an online donation webpage through Make-A-Wish at https://friends.wish.org/045-000/Profile.asp?URL=register/reg02.asp.

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