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Polar Bear Plunge raises funds for Humane Society of Washington County

Polar Bear Plunge raises funds for Humane Society of Washington County

When Miss Maryland 2017 Katie Masek was a child, she moved around a lot because of her mother’s Naval career.

As the Miss America Scholarship titleholder, Masek has made military families part of her platform. But to her, that means pets, too.

“I grew up with a lot of animals,” she said. “We had rats, fish, mice, hamsters, bunnies — we had so many animals growing up, it was something very near and dear to my heart. They were also such as a comfort to me. Moving around so much as a child with my mom being in the military, it was just something I could go to as a child and still as an adult I love animals.”

That’s why Masek is donating her time to help give back to the Humane Society of Washington County as one of the celebrity plungers for the 15th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Greenbrier State Park in Boonsboro.

“My interest is with animals, if I can give back to animals that is where my heart is,” said Masek who spent 10 years in Carroll County, Md., growing up. “Other than the military, animals just speak to me.”

Masek, who owns two boxers, Cam and Axel, will join fellow celebrity plungers AJ Silver and Krystle, who are radio personalities with 104.7 WAYZ;  WDVM meteorologist David Dickson and reporter Sarah Gisriel, and Humane Society of Washington County’s own CEO and President Kim Intino, along with the hundreds who flock to the Greenbrier’s beach.

HSWC Marketing Coordinator Noel Fridgen said the Humane Society is excited to mark a milestone this year with the Polar Bear Plunge. 

“We’re very excited about that, so we’re trying to make it our biggest, our best yet,” she said.

Fridgen said it makes for a long day for employees and volunteers because they will be out at Greenbrier State Park early before the first plungers arrive.

“We make sure the lake is cleared of any ice or anything the weather has had an impact on,” she said. 

One year, she said, the lake had 6 inches of ice on it and they had to have divers come in and cut the ice to allow plungers into the lake.

Registration and check-in begin at 10:30 a.m., and the plunge is at noon. Costume judging will be from 10:30 to 11:45 a.m.

“We encourage people to dress up and have a really fun time with it,” Fridgen said. 

Right before the plunge, prizes will be given out for Most Money Raised, Best Individual Costume, Best Team Costume, and Largest Team of Participants. 

Fridgen said the celebrities go in first. 

“Then right after that the general plungers get to take their run into the cold water,” she said.

Although the deadline has passed to get a T-shirt, there is still time to register. The cost is $25 in advance; $30 the day of the plunge. 

Those who don’t want to tip their toes into the cold waters can still help raise money for the Humane Society by sponsoring a plunger. Plungers also are encouraged to raise funds before the plunge.

“It’s such a great way to give back to the animals and to the community, so we encourage those who are in a helping spirit to sign up and plunge,” she said.

According to Fridgen, last year the Polar Bear Plunge netted $39,000, which goes into the Humane Society’s operating fund. 

“It’s our biggest fundraiser of the year and it really makes a difference for us throughout the year,” she said.

The Humane Society of Washington County, which sits off Maugansville Road in Hagerstown, takes in 6,000 pets a year to the shelter. The money raised, Fridgen said, goes to help with the daily needs of the animals include vet needs. 

Fridgen, who has never dipped into the icy waters herself, said she’s hoping for good weather. 

“Last year, it was wintry mix and quiet cold. I’m just hoping for anything better than that. But the worse the weather, you almost get more into it,” she said.

Predictions for this year is rain with a high of 47 degrees. 

Masek said she’s OK with whatever weather Mother Nature has in store for the event.

“I’m expecting a lot of fun and freezing cold water, but it’s OK because it’s for a great cause,” she said, noting she’s going to have a thick, fuzzy robe on hand before and after to keep her warm.

Fridgen encourages anyone to come out and plunge. 

“It’s such a unique and fun event, it’s something you will never forget,” she said.

If you go ...

WHAT: 15th annual Polar Bear Plunge, benefiting the Humane Society of Washington County
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 13
WHERE: Greenbrier State Park, 21843 National Pike, Boonsboro
COST: Cost is $25 in advance; $30 day of
CONTACT: Register at
MORE: Plunge at noon. Proceeds benefit the Humane Society of Washington County.

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