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Freezing temperatures and windy weather couldn't stop 80 people from breaking out their bathing suits early and taking a jump into the icy waters at Fairways at Twin Lakes Golf Course Sunday to raise money for the Don Beckett Memorial Scholarship.
The fundraiser collected $2,430 from donations, tips from the bar and the costs to participate in the polar plunge and longest drive contest.
"I'm really pleased and thankful to the Kent community for coming out," said Fairways owner David Beck, who organized the day's festivities. "It was a huge success."
While some residents shivered, screamed for their towels and ran for the bonfire, others cheered them on, covered head to toe in hats, gloves and boots. Kent resident Carrie Gavriloff jumped with her 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth.
"When you go under, you lose your breath," Carrie Gavriloff said. "For a few seconds I felt like I couldn't breathe."
Two firefighters from the Kent Fire Department, wearing thermal suits, sat on opposite ends of the hole in the ice for safety. Kent Fire Lt. Bill Myers said jumping into the water was completely safe. If anything happened, rescuers were inches away and an ambulance was waiting in the parking lot.
The scholarship is a $1,000 award presented to two Theodore Roosevelt High School graduates interested in pursuing a career in the medical field, police force or fire department. About ten years ago, Don Beckett, a firefighter for the Kent Fire Department, established the scholarship, Myers said. Beck knew about the scholarship and decided to make it his first fundraiser of the year.
"Since my family bought Twin Lakes (golf course), we've been looking for a way to get people out in the winter," he said. "We thought it would be a great cause."
Beck approached the fire department, which was happy to help with the event and decided to name the scholarship in honor of Beckett, who died of cancer in 2011.
"(Beck) organized the whole thing," Myers said. "He came up with the concept as a way to give back to the community."
Beck, who also braved the cold and jumped to raise money for the scholarship, said the fundraiser exceeded his expectations.
"For the first year, we had a lot of volunteers," he said. "It turned out great."
Beck said he has several fundraiser ideas planned for the year, but knows for certain that the polar event will become an annual event.
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