A Monumental Accomplishment

The Annual “Get Wet for a Vet” Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge has come a long way since raising $400 for the Fisher House at the inaugural plunge in 2005. Now, 20 years later, through the hard work of a team of dedicated volunteers, the Polar Bear Plunger has broken the One Million Dollar mark. The Plunge has now raised a total of $1,040,000, with 100% going to Fisher House for veterans and their families.

The Fisher House serves wounded veterans and their families and is one of the top non-profits in the country.

Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge Director Trish Cosgrove stated, “The milestone of hitting over a million dollars in donations for Fisher House is amazing. We have over 100 volunteers and 200 key sponsors that make the Polar Bear Plunge fundraising efforts possible every year. They all deserve a big Thank You for their dedication in making the Plunge a success every year.”

Most people think that the Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge is people just showing up on January 1st, where some jump in the ocean, or that some people enter a costume contest on the beach hoping to win a prize. The fact is that starting in September, plans for next year’s plunge are being made. T- Shirts, hoodies, and other merchandise are designed, and then thousands of Brigantine Polar Bear Shirts, hoodies and merchandise are ordered. Those items will then be sold by volunteers in order to raise donations to Fisher House.

Cosgrove stated, “We have over 100 volunteers selling the Polar Bear merchandise right up to the day of the plunge. There are 4 levels of our 200 sponsors, who contribute annually, making it possible to order the merchandise, and their names are put on the shirts every year.”

This year's “Get Wet for a Vet” Polar Bear Beach Plunge included a 50/50 Raffle, a costume contest, performances by the Zumba Chicks, DJ Augie spinning some tunes, a giant polar bear, the ACIT ROTC Color Guard, and the Brigantine VFW and Absecon American Legion Color Guards. The event was emceed by Cosgrove and Mayor Vince Sera and the plunge was officially started by the roar of a cannon by Last Salute.

Channel 6 Action News did a nice piece on the plunge. The National Anthem was sung by Tedi and several Fisher House representatives from Washington were here in attendance. Over 5,000 people attended the 2024 Plunge, and approximately 2,000 ‘got wet.’ There were also close to a hundred Jeeps surrounding the event as 4X4 permits were waived for the Plunge. The National Van Lines trailer and White Truck equipment, all donated, was used as the stage for the plunge and all of the accompanying events.

Special Recognition Plaques were presented to the City of Brigantine/ Mayor Vince Sera, the Absecon Color Guard (17 years) the Legion Riders (YTD $25,000 in donations), Emmett Turner and the Brigantine Times, involved since year one, Dave Biggins (Day one go-to guy) - Augie Peltonen (20-year logo design) - Dick Scaffa (National Van Lines) and Joe Campitelli (Clean Communities).

Million Dollar Sponsor Awards for donating at least $2500 to the Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge were presented to deserving people and organizations. Receiving the award were American Legion Riders (Tom Dixon), ROOT 24 Hour Plumbing Heating, VFW (Commander Mario and Charles Gill), Jolly Roger (Carl Mutschler), Armor (Gene Rose), Brigantine Zumba Dancers (Karen Geller) and the 2nd Lt. Ryan Rehill Foundation and Family. A Million Dollar Milestone Check was presented to Fisher House representatives by Cosgrove.

The Costume Contest had 20 entries this year, and there were 3 individual winners and 3 group winners. The winners were: Individual Costume: 1st. Maui Male/Octopus Lady 2nd: Mummer 3rd: Dinosaur. Group Costumes: 1st Moo Cows, 2nd. Mrs. Ropers and 3rd. ZUMBA CHICS. Prizes for the Costume Contest were provided by Primal Surf, McHugh’s Pizza, The Cove, Cordavari’s, Casa Al Mare, Pirates Den, Mission Cafe, and Finale Hair Salon.

The 50/50 was a whopping $2600 and winners Joe and Mani Mitchell donated their winnings right back to the Fisher House.

A special thanks to the following, who make the Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge possible: The Brigantine Community, Brigantine Police-Fire- Lifeguards and EMT’s, John Doring and Brigantine Public Works, VFW Post 6964 for hosting the Polar Bear ‘Beach- wear Store’, Rip Tide Beach- wear Store, Atlantic Coast Moving and Storage, the Beachwear team of volunteers and the 200 sponsors named on the shirts. And, last but not least, a big thanks to Polar Bear Plunge Director Trish Cos- grove, whose year-round leadership and dedication make the Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge what it is today.

Donating one million, forty thousand dollars to Fisher House is quite an accomplishment. Every year, the Polar Bear Team sets a certain goal to meet, and with rising costs, it becomes harder and harder to reach that goal. But because of the hard work of the volunteers, support of the Brigantine community and the generous donations from individuals and organizations, that goal was once again met this year.

The Brigantine Times congratulates all of the volunteers, individuals and organizations that made the 2024 “Get Wet for a Vet” Brigantine Polar Bear Plunge a success in reaching the Million Dollar Milestone.