255 brave souls… and me

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you who joined us this past Saturday at the 6th Annual “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge. It was truly an inspiring day for all of us here at CCAN. It means so much to us that 256 brave souls (our best participation EVER) signed up to brave 17 degree temperatures to jump into the Potomac River with us to help support our work. We had a great time on Saturday, and we hope you did too.

Please check out the video and photos from the day and share them on your favorite social network. If you have photos from the day, please upload them to Flickr and tag them “pbp11,” or share them on our Facebook wall. Also, check out this article in The Nation about the plunge.

At the Plunge, I was inspired by Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Maryland’s 4th District, who braved the temperatures on a frigid Saturday morning to display her unwavering commitment to fighting climate change. I was coordinating media at the event with Rep. Edwards’ staff, and I would chuckle every time I heard her say to a reporter: “Well, I have to say that this is definitely the COOLEST thing I have ever done for my job!” I was also moved by the presence of a group of Franciscan monks who entered the Potomac in their full robes, and San Francisco 49ers linebacker Navarro Bowman. This was a solid display of solidarity among a diverse coalition of folks committed to the same end: stopping global warming in its tracks.

This was my first Plunge, and I have to admit that I was kind of proud of myself for actually making it into the water! I am notorious for being that girl in the 74-degree room who complains about how cold I am, which is especially ironic given my career choice. My stepdad even drove 90 minutes to National Harbor to provide moral support and to make sure I actually made it into the water! Still, it really wasn’t nearly as hard as I expected. The energy at the plunge was so high all morning that I found myself anticipating the main event. The hardest part was standing on the beach waiting to go in! We chanted: “350! 350!! 350!!!” and in we went. It was over in a blink and I exited the water feeling both exhilarated and accomplished.

Despite my distaste for cold weather, I am acutely aware of the fact that climate change and the warming of our planet is one of the greatest problems facing human society. The year 2010 tied 2005 for the warmest year in recorded history. January 2011 might be setting some cold-weather records in Washington, but the global trend is painfully clear: the Earth is warming– FAST.

Saturday was bone-chilling. My toes might still be recovering, but it’s certainly better than the alternative. In reflection, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

See you next year!