Freezing waters­ no deterrent

The notion of submitting to suffering to raise funds is well-established, as it plays out in numerous walks to inspire donations for research to combat disease.

But there’s something that makes one wince, when it involves plunging into near-freezing water to justify asking for contributions to a good cause.

Maybe it’s better when the instigator submits to the suffering too, as Dave Kimmel, who founded the Penn State Altoona Alumni Society’s “Winter Plunge” did for the second annual dousing Sunday.

The suffering seems to be working, as this year, the society raised about $50,000 – which it will split between the university’s famous THON fundraiser and the university’s scholarship fund.

It’s about four times as much as last year’s event raised.

The money raised went up, while the depth of the plunge went down.

Last year, the water at Canoe Creek Lake where emergency responders cut an opening in the ice was deep enough for full-body dunking.

This year, it was only knee deep – although participants still hesitated before stepping off the ice.

But the water was only 33 degrees.

Afterward, Kimmel – who changed into dry clothes before talking to a reporter – founded the event in hopes of catching the interests of students, as well as alums and the community.

He figured a plunge – he’d witnessed one on the beach in Delaware a few years ago – would work.

Sunday’s drew 114 participants.

Penn State Altoona student Molly Vasek was one of them.

She raised $120 from her home area, Glen Mills, including contributions from a local fire company.

She paid for it with “pins and needles” in the water.

She’d been excited, then nervous, then excited, and the excitement helped ward off the pain, she said.

“This is what we’re about,” said campus Chancellor Lori Bechtel-Wherry afterward.