As I was driving through the chilly rain on my way to Lake Tapps Saturday morning, I couldn’t help but think this whole “Take the Plunge Against Domestic Violence” thing sounded a lot better in the abstract.
Sitting in a warm conference room shooting off one’s mouth about it being a good cause and jumping shouldn’t be a big deal is one thing; getting up on a late October Saturday morning to drive through the rain to actually jump in a glacier-fed is another.
But it is a good cause and there was no backing out, despite the 45-degree temperatures and constant drizzle. After all, I had collected nearly $400 from friends and co-workers looking forward to seeing me go jump in a lake.
See, the Plunge Against Domestic Violence is an awareness and fundraising event now in its third year. Each jumper pledges at least $50 to go to Exodus House, a Sumner-based organization that finds housing for families fleeing domestic violence situations.
Presently, Exodus is providing homes for 42 families in the Sumner/Bonney Lake area.
But though there is a fundraising element, Exodus House Executive Director Joe O’Neil told those gathered to watch the primary purpose is to raise awareness.
O’Neil calls the jump “shock and awe” and considers the cold water a metaphor for the shock and awe victims of domestic violence face, never knowing when they come home, what sort of person they will find and what the evening may bring.
The difference, of course, is that we can prepare for a jump into a cold lake, we know it’s coming and when. Domestic violence victims do not.
Not that it makes actually jumping off a dock any easier, mind you.
The wife and I arrived at Allan Yorke Park about 10 minutes before the plunge, where nearly 40 other jumpers had gathered. I stripped off my jeans and joined the line with the rest of the folks who had worn costumes to the event.
I dressed as Clark Kent: a Superman outfit tucked under an open white shirt and a pair of glasses. There was another Superman in the line as well – he won the costume contest – along with a leopard, a chef with a rubber chicken, a construction worker, a pirate, a Bonney Lake councilmember dressed as a ninja and a couple of sock monkeys.
We were joined by a whole host of folks who didn’t wear costumes, but were still planning a jump, wearing everything from a wetsuit (O’Neil) to nothing but a pair of board shorts, like we were planning a nice dip in a Hawaiian Bay (East Pierce Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief John McDonald).
Most folks wore t-shirts and shorts, however.
After a short pep talk from O’Neil, we dutifully marched out on to the dock at the swimming area at the park and one of the Exodus House staffers began a countdown.
I remember trying to come up with a way out and having to shake that off as the countdown hot zero.
Next thing I knew I was in the air. And then I was in the lake.
And let’s just say that yes, it was exactly as cold as you think it was in all of the places you’d really like to keep warm.
The water in the swimming area is about three to four feet deep and I splashed in and landed on my feet and immediately began running toward the shore. It seemed a little like forever, but I’m sure it was about 15 or 20 seconds.
It was brisk. But it was also something of a rush. Certainly shocking.
I got out of the water and my wife immediately wrapped me in a towel. To be honest, the wet clothes weren’t all that bad, except for my feet.
I had worn my One Stars into the lake because I had never been in Lake Tapps before and did not know what to expect from the bottom. It seemed like a good idea until I got out and the wet canvas just seemed to trap the cold against my body. Even after I changed it took until Kent on the drive home before my feet were warm again!
But like I said, while it was shocking, it was over quickly and I was warm and cozy again within the hour.
Unfortunately, for families trapped in bad situations, their shock and awe does not end quite as quickly. Which is why I am glad I jumped and why I will do it again.
The money I raised will go to an excellent cause and will help many families, thanks to the great work done by O’Neil and the rest of the Exodus Staff (several of whom made the plunge themselves).
Though Domestic Violence Awareness month is winding down, there is still a chance to donate if you are interested. Please head over to http://www.active.com/donate/plungeagainstDV/BBeckley and give what you can. Anything helps and all of the money goes to Exodus House.
And thanks to those who donated. Hopefully the pictures are as ridiculous as you had hoped…