“It was breathtaking when I hit the water,” he said. “I was probably in there 60 seconds tops. I had a towel waiting on me when I got out.”
Brazier said he’ll do it again next year and in years to come.
“In 20 years, I’ll be 54,” he said. “When I’m 60, if they’re still doing it, I’ll jump in.”
Mayor Bill Baker came up with the idea to benefit Venecia’s Foundation, a non-profit. Venecia Benefield Butler, who has gone through four bouts of cancer, organized the foundation to provide chemo bags to those going through cancer treatments.
True to his word, the mayor and Butler, holding hands, went in first.
According to Butler, they quickly dropped hands and each went their own way once they were in the pool.
“I just wanted out of there,” said Butler. “It definitely woke you up. The shock of the water psyched me out. It was numbing.”
Butler said she spent three weeks in the Philippines, taking cold showers the entire time.
“I tried to remember how awful that was,” she said. “But I was also thinking about all the people that I sat in chemo with who couldn’t be there. It just shows you how cancer brings people together. It’s an awful disease. I appreciate everyone who came and supported our foundation.”
Linda Hearn and her 13-year-old daughter, Becca, 13, who attends Jacksonville High School, didn’t dive in. They waded in.
“It was a chilling experience,” said Hearn. “It took your breath away for a few seconds. Time was frozen, it was so cold. I was looking around for Becca. When I saw her, she was running toward the blankets and the towels.”
Hearn said she enjoyed the exhilarating experience and thinks it’s wonderful that Piedmont did this to help those with cancer.
Becca said hitting the water was a big shock.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be that cold,” she said. “It was so cold I ran in and then I had to run back out.”
Becca said she’d like do it again and try to stay in longer next time.
Bobby Steed of Piedmont said he was expecting it to be worse than what it was. He’d said he’d be up to doing it again.
“I’m a firm supporter in what they’re doing with Venecia’s Foundation,” said Steed. “I took part in the race a few months ago where they painted everyone as they ran. If they ever do anything else, I’ll be there to help support her.”
Steed said his mother, Margie Steed, had cancer twice before she died.
“I’d do it again in a heartbeat,” he said. “It’s most definitely a good thing. If there’s anybody who has not had cancer in their family, it’s a matter of time before they will, and then they’ll realize that what she’s doing is a good thing.”
Keith Word, master of ceremonies, announced that the water temperature was 44-46 degrees, about 10 degrees warmer than out of the water.
Word kept the crowd informed about where patches of ice could be found around the pool and urged everyone to walk carefully around those patches. He welcomed everyone and expressed appreciation for their attendance.
Baker said the temperature to him felt like it was 20 degrees below 0.
“Somebody said we needed to throw some ice cubes in there and make it a real polar plunge,” he said. “I told them we didn’t have to do that. It was cold enough.”
Baker said he’s happy with the turnout.
“I had no idea many people would come,” he said. “You really don’t know until you get there. But it couldn’t have been better.”
About 64 took the plunge.
A total of $3,400 was raised. Baker said contributions are still coming in, and the total is expected to rise to about $4,000.
“I’m so thankful everyone came and contributed to our foundation because we’re continually having to fill bags for those going through chemo,” said Butler. “We never get caught up because there’s a new cancer diagnosis every week for someone, and we’re having to always pack more bags. We were running low on funds because we’ve done so many bags, but the time of this was perfect as far as helping us out through January.”
Contact Margaret at firstname.lastname@example.org.