Five years ago, Joe Dowling of the Hampden Kiwanis Club was planning to jump into frigid water to help raise money for Camp Sunshine on Sebago Lake in Casco, which provides year-round free respite programs for children with life-threatening illness and their immediate families.
But Joe was told Camp Sunshine was going through a renovation process and wouldn’t be holding a polar dip that year, so he decided to initiate one himself.
He also decided his polar dip wouldn’t benefit just Camp Sunshine, it also would benefit Camp Capella on Phillips Lake in Dedham, a handicapped-accessible year-round camp, recreational and education program for children and adults with disabilities.
That’s what makes the Hampden Kiwanis Club’s Bangor Polar Plunge, “Freezin’ for a Reason,” unique: The money raised benefits not one but two nonprofits.
“It’s been incredible,” Joe said of the support for this particular fundraiser.
Last year, about 45 people ran into the frigid waters of Phillips Lake and raised more than $15,000, which was divided among the organizations according to the donor’s designation.
Asked why he does something that is so uncomfortable, Joe will tell you he does it for “the kids with illnesses and disabilities who are stuck with” being uncomfortable for a lifetime, while “we are stuck with being uncomfortable for just a little while.”
“We are in and out of the water and warmed up pretty quickly, because Sandollar Spa and Pool brings in a hot tub for us. Nobody lingers,” he said.
“But disease and illness lingers. That’s why we do it.”
Joe hopes you will join him in this endeavor on Sunday, Feb. 6, at Phillips Lake, and he encourages you to raise what you can. Participation is what counts, he said.
You also may send your donations to Hampden Kiwanis Club, P.O. Box 498, Hampden 04444, or register and receive more information by calling Joe Dowling at 659-0437.
This week, we bid farewell to an old friend who brought us much joy.
Former Bangor and Green Lake resident Lois Ann Woodman, 83, died Dec. 30 in North Conway, N.H., where she had moved to be near her daughter.
Lois Ann and I were members of the Junior League of Bangor and The Quipus, and we both enjoyed being BJL children’s theater troupers and coordinating fashion shows featuring the historic costume collection of The Quipus.
Lois Ann was a peach; a real delight. She made you feel so comfortable and welcome, it was as if you’d known her all your life.
The most memorable connection Lois Ann and I have is a living one: a 17-pound Maltese Shih Tzu named Charlie.
In 2001, Lois Ann and her late husband, Fred, moved into Sunbury Village in Bangor.
About the same time, my husband, Ralph, and I were without a dog for the first time in either of our lives.
At a Quipus meeting she was able to attend the next year, Lois Ann told me how upset she was because she knew the time was near for them to give up Charlie, and she didn’t know what to do.
I asked my husband if he’d like to visit the Woodmans, and meet Charlie.
When Ralph walked into their apartment and sat down, Charlie jumped into Ralph’s lap.
“Well, there,” Lois Ann said.
A week later, Charlie moved in with us, but it always tickled me that whenever we took Charlie to Sunbury, he knew exactly which turns to take to get to the Woodmans’ door, and how happy he was to see them again.
We miss Lois Ann, but we thank her and Fred for our Charlie, who is now 12, and we extend our deepest sympathies to her children and family.
Joni Averill, Bangor Daily News, P.O. Box 1329, Bangor 04402; firstname.lastname@example.org; 990-8288.