Taking a plunge for the community

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Photos courtesy of Alaska Division

By Karen Gleason – Lt. Jeff Josephson, Homer corps officer, and Captain Rio Ray, Alaska divisional youth and candidates’ secretary, traveled in mid-January to Seward for the Polar Bear Plunge, where individuals dive into the freezing water of Resurrection Bay and swim to the dock ladder.

The Salvation Army supports this annual event by serving hot chocolate, coffee and doughnuts to participants and spectators.

This year, Josephson and Ray, caught up in the excitement of the moment, left the safety of the sidelines, descended to the dock and jumped into the bay in uniform.PolarBear01

“As I walked to the dock wearing only my fatigues I thought I couldn’t be much colder,” Ray said. “The wind was howling, a steady rain had soaked us to the bone, and my socks were freezing to the dock. A few moments later I realized that there was a whole level of cold that I’d never experienced.”

The cheering crowd was thrilled with their display of solidarity.

“We ascended the small steps, faithfully saluted and then jumped in,” Ray said. “Once your body hits such cold water it goes into survival mode—you swim faster than you ever have before as your limbs become numb. It was a unique way to promote the good work of The Salvation Army.”


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