On the shores of Ocean City Maryland, January 1st brings a lot more than just a few leftover New Year’s Eve celebrators. This day brings penguins. That is what they call the participants that are willing to jump in the chilly winter waters for a great cause.
The Penguin Swim is what they call the fundraiser to benefit the Atlantic General Hospital Foundation in Berlin. This fundraiser takes place every year on New Year’s Day and the upcoming Penguin Swim makes the 18th annual event. Last year they raised over $80,000. This is a rain or shine event, they figure you will get wet either way. According to Amy Unger, the Director of Development of Atlantic General since 2009, “we estimate 900 brave souls jumped in the water last year”. With the swim scheduled on a Sunday this year, they are hoping for over 1,000 participants.
Anyone, individuals or teams, can participate in this event. Those who raise a minimum of $25.00 will be eligible to win incentive prizes. The 2012 incentive prizes are, $25.00 level – choice of beanie style hat or a puffer penguin, $75.00 level – choice of penguin hat or a long sleeved tee shirt, $150.00 level – choice of sweat shirt or beach towel and $250.00 level – choice of mini corn hole set or trunk organizer. Teams and individuals also compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards for the highest fundraising. Last year’s winners for individuals were, 1st Craig Kettler of Leesburg, VA in 1st with $4,275, Woody “Butch” German of Baltimore, MD in 2nd with $3,750.00 and Kevin Massey of Delmar, MD in 3rd with $1,000.00. Winners for highest Team Fundraisers were Bull on the Beach in 1st with approximately $20,000.00, Ocean Pines Penguin Swim Team in 2nd with approximately $6,200.00 and the AGH Flapping Flamingos in 3rd with approximately $6,000.00. The event draws penguins of all ages; the youngest penguin was 5 month old Jay Kettler of Leesburg, VA. The oldest penguin was 82 year old Pasquale Lemme of Newark, MD.
Sammi Luffman, 13 of Willards, MD is one of the brave souls that participate in the Penguin Swim. She will be getting a group of her friends together from school, to jump in the chilly water with her on January 1st. Sammi was 9 years old when she took her first dip, according to her mom, Wendi. Sammi was on the beach with her thick fuzzy robe on over her bathing suit and had changed her mind about the dip. While Sammi was standing at the water edge talking her self out of it, a wave surprised her. The warm fuzzy robe got soaked and she officially took her first Penguin Swim, “unwillingly” according to her mom. Sammi says she participates in the swim every year because it’s a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause.
New this year, pre-registration is at the Princess Royale from 2pm to 4pm on New Year’s Eve. This is a new option that gives participants an option to turn in their money early and pick up their prizes. Early registrants will also get entered in a drawing for a 2-night stay in Ocean City. Also new this year for the event is a Facebook page.
Registration for the swim on the day of the event begins at 11:30am at the Princess Royale Atrium on 91st. The event starts at 1:00pm on January 1st. Following the swim, the swimmers are welcome to come back to the Atrium and get warmed up in the hot tubs and the pools. They will also be giving out the awards at this time. Will you be in the running this year? If you are looking for something to do, jumping in or at least watching the brave penguins will surely be a great way to start off the new year!