The lonely plunge

January 31, 2014 

I jumped into Longview Lake without another soul around on Jan. 25.

And, maybe, that’s how it was supposed to be for my first Polar Plunge.

The day itself was emotional and reflecting with family in town for the funeral of our brother, brother-in-law, husband, son-in-law and friend, Tony Delce.

Balancing between being there for whatever the family needed during that time and trying to stay true to my commitment to the Polar Plunge was, to say the least, trying, and a little stressful.

Some asked how I was going to pull off the plunge immediately after Tony’s funeral. My response was that I had to. In fact, after attending his service and hearing his close friends and extended family speak to the kind of man he was – and coupled with what I already knew of him – I knew following through for Special Olympics was the right thing to do that day.

As I hustled out to Longview Lake, I had some needed reflection time on the drive. Reflecting about decades of laughs with Tony, challenging times with the family and his service to God and to others along the way.

For weeks and months I had been raising money for this plunge, a benefit for Special Olympics. In fact, 19 different people had contributed to the cause for my plunge. I wanted to make good on that commitment.

When I arrived at the Longview Lake Beach, I noticed the tents were still up, but there wasn’t a polar plunger in sight. When I made my way down, I was told the last group had already gone in and left.

“Well, I am still going in, either way,” I announced.

Fortunately, I found Lee’s Summit police officer Mark Wiesemann, whom I had been in contact with about my schedule, and he helped facilitate the long polar plunge on my behalf.

I changed, charged into the frigid lake and, for a few brief moments, reveled in the serenity and peacefulness of it all. I took a second to remember Tony and thank God. It was just a few seconds that felt much longer to me. And as I was the lone polar plunger in the lake at that time, I truly did feel surrounded by calm and tranquility.

I made my turn, charged out of the lake and quickly dried my feet off, which helped very little, actually. My feet were hurting and numb for most of the drive back home.

I rejoined my family back at the church just in time for the prayer before our potluck luncheon that included a slideshow of Tony and a packed room of people he had a profound effect on.

Although emotional and draining, the weekend with family and friends – with a brief stop in a lake for a good cause – gave me all the perspective on life I would need.

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