Participants in the annual Sloper Plunge fundraiser are hoping for some warmer weather to arrive as the Cheshire Community YMCA gets set to host its annual event at Sloper Pond this Saturday, Feb. 27.
Normally held in January, the plunge sees dozens of participants leaping into the pond at YMCA Camp Sloper in often freezing temperatures to raise money for local children to go to one of the Southington-Cheshire Community YMCAs three summer camps — Camp Quinnipiac, YMCA Camp Sloper and Camp Naciwonki.
Local Cheshire businesses and organizations — including Cheshire Pizza & Ale, Pop’s Pizza, Viron Rondo Osteria, Town Councilor members, the Cheshire Board of Education, Cheshire Police Department, Cheshire Fire Department and Cheshire YMCA staff — have previously formed teams to jump into the water together, with each participant asked to raise funds to help send kids to camp.
The plunge typically attracts hundreds of spectators, however to abide by pandemic precautions the YMCA will instead be taking a video of the event and prohibiting in-person guests. Teams also usually go one after the other and cheer each other on, however, this year, they’ll be arriving one at a time and departing before the next arrives.
Despite the changes, Justin Hubeny, the YMCA’s Outdoor Center director, expects this year’s plunge to have the same exciting, fun and energetic atmosphere.
“We’re still going to bring that same environment, there’s just not going to be spectators this year,” he said. “… It’s one of my personal favorite events of the year. It’s all for a good cause.”
Team Hartford HealthCare is expecting to see between 50 and 60 participants, said team leader Karen Fasano, HHC’s vice president of patient care services. Hartford HealthCare is this year’s featured team, a designation the YMCA gives to one team each year to highlight its social responsibility.
Both Havican and Fasano have seen the YMCA’s impact firsthand. Havican grew up going to camp at another Connecticut YMCA and Fasano’s children have attended YMCA Camp Sloper since they were 3 years old. She credits the work of the counselors there with shaping them into the teenagers they are today.
“I am devoted to the success of YMCA Camp Sloper … as a working mother, I never would have survived without the help of YMCA Camp Sloper,” she said.