A dusting of snow provided the perfect backdrop Friday for Casey Birge as she introduced plans for her first Penguin Plunge fundraiser as president of Junior Achievement of South Central Kentucky.
“It’s a perfect day to launch Penguin Plunge,” said Birge, hired in December as leader of the local Junior Achievement office. “I just hope it’s a little warmer on March 7.”
That’s the date for the 15th annual Penguin Plunge, an event that brings out business and education leaders – many in costume – who volunteer to jump into a pool set up in the Sloan Convention Center parking lot, all in the name of raising money for a nonprofit organization that provides work readiness and financial literacy programming in area schools.
Held at the Bluegrass Cellular building on Campbell Lane, the Penguin Plunge kickoff was a testament to how an event that started as an extra fundraiser has caught on among local businesses that turn out to raise money and to compete in top fundraiser and costume contests.
“This is a great way to give back to our community,” said Maria Higgs, district retail manager for Bluegrass Cellular, among the event’s sponsors from year one. “I hope our relationship with Penguin Plunge continues for another 15 years because we really believe in Junior Achievement.”
The 15th annual event, held in conjunction with the Builders Association of South Central Kentucky Home Expo, will begin at 10:30 a.m. March 7. Birge said she would like to see more than 50 volunteer “plungers” turn out for this year’s event, which has a fundraising goal of $15,000.
Each person who volunteers to jump into the cold water March 7 must raise at least $50, money that Birge says will pay big dividends for the 10-county region the Bowling Green-based J.A. office serves.
“If we raise $15,000, it will provide programming for 25 classrooms,” Birge said. “The money we raise will make an impact.”
Jerry Mefford, as service manager at Bowling Green’s Aqualand Pool, Spa and Patio company, has provided the pool each year of the event and believes it’s a good cause.
“The programming they do is unbelievable for younger kids,” Mefford said. “It helps them learn about business and entrepreneurship.”
Mefford has jumped in the pool in his “Aqualand-Man” suit in the past, but now he prefers being a spectator.
“Now I get to see the expressions on their faces as they hit the cold water,” he said. “And I like watching all the skits the people do.”
The 15th annual Penguin Plunge will begin with a “March of the Penguins” at 10:30 a.m., giving the costumed participants a chance to parade in front of judges who will decide who gets awards in the costume category. The “plunging” will begin at approximately 10:45 a.m.
– More information about the Penguin Plunge can be found at the junior achievement.org website.