It’s that time of year when crazy people jump into icy cold waters. Some do it for charity, and some do it just because they’re crazy. In Reston on Saturday, the sixth annual “Freezin for a Reason Virginia Polar Dip” will occur at Lake Anne, to raise money for Camp Sunshine, a retreat for seriously ill children and their families.
A similar “Polar Plunge Winter Festival” is scheduled Saturday in Virginia Beach to benefit Special Olympics, and Triangle resident Steve Costa is participating for the second straight year. Except this year he won’t be in Virginia Beach. He is in Bagram, Afghanistan, where he manages the heavily armored MRAP vehicle program, and he is going to take the plunge with 10 to 20 other “volunteers” (his quotes) in a small pool he bought online and had shipped to Bagram.
“We are filling the pool tomorrow morning,” Costa told me in an e-mail Wednesday, “and posting a guard with the night shift for ice breaking duties!” Bagram has not had a shortage of snow this winter, as one of Costa’s photos shows, and it is forecast to be in the 30s with “either snow or rain” on Saturday.
Good times. Totally not crazy. For more on Costa and how you can help, or dive in yourself, read after the jump.
When he’s in Virginia, Costa is the Marine Corps program manager for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protect (MRAP) vehicle program. He also is a Special Olympics coach in Stafford County. Every year, the Stafford team, called “Area 11,” participates in the Polar Plunge in Virginia Beach, and Costa said Area 11 has raised the most donations in each of the last four years..
“I knew I was deploying to Afghanistan in October,” Costa wrote, ”so I made a promise to the kids that I would honor the plunge this year by plunging in the ‘Stan.”
Last year was Costa’s first plunge, and he said his costume featured the “Braveheart” battle theme, with the blue facepaint. (Not sure William Wallace had any words painted across his chest, but you never know.)
“I was a little naive,” Costa said. “I actually didn’t do my investigative work, as I assumed it was only going to be Area 11 plunging. There were over 10,000 plungers — it was awesome.”
I asked Costa why anyone would do this in Afghanistan in February. He said that one of his co-plungers is also from Virginia, Curtis Dunn.
”I would love to say that I am a motivational leader and these folks will follow me anywhere,” Costa replied. “But truth be told, these folks are real heroes sacrificing their time away from their families and loved ones to support our war fighters and they just know a good cause when they see it. Plus, I truly believe that it will take the ‘edge’ off for at least an hour — and that hour means a lot in this place.”
Costa’s donation page is here.
The Reston “polar dip” page is here.
And if you want to try this yourself, but need a month to get ready, Special Olympics is having another one of these on March 2 in Dumfries, at Tim’s Rivershore Restaurant and Crabhouse. Around here, it could be 70 degrees that day, or it could be 10. Good luck.