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KNR Legal Blog
Akron, Ohio, February 13, 2015 – It’s not always easy supporting a charitable cause. One longtime fundraising event even asks participants to brave the frigid waters of winter.
The Portage Lakes Polar Bear Jump was started 12 years ago by Portage Lakes residents Kelly and Heather Pariso and Jeff and Debbie Faulkman to raise money and awareness about local charities. Since then, the event has raised nearly $500,000 for companies that provide various types of assistance.
This year the jump takes place on Saturday, Feb. 21 and the beneficiary will be the AkronCanton Regional Foodbank. Founded in 1982, the nonprofit organization provides food and other essential items to member agencies in Summit, Stark, Portage, Medina, Carroll, Holmes, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties.These member agencies operate 500 food pantries, hot meal sites, shelters and other hunger-relief programs in communities where people need food.
“The Polar Bear Jump began as a backyard party and then it got so big that it moved to Portage Lakes State Park,” said Dan Flowers, president and chief executive officer of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
“Everyone shows up in crazy costumes,” he said. “Some people pay tribute to loved ones they have lost and others do it to help the needy in their neighborhoods.”
This is the fifth year the event will benefit the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank.
“We receive funds on odd years,” said Flowers, who will be jumping for the third time this year. “I was really anxious about it the first time, but it wasn’t that bad. It’s really like a badge of honor. This year I am not concerned about it at all.”
In 2013, the event raised $85,000 for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, which is located at 350 Opportunity Pkwy. in Akron. This year, the goal is to raise $100,000, enough to cover the cost of 400,000 meals.
“Each day the Foodbank and its team of partner agencies are putting approximately 82,000 meals on the tables of families in our community struggling with hunger,” said Flowers. He said every dollar generates four meals.
Last year the new docks and varied jump times at Portage Lakes accommodated over 800 participants who took a splash into the lake’s chilly waters. This year there will be jumpers from organizations like Kisling, Nestico & Redick, FirstEnergy, Akron Public Schools, GOJO Industries and the YMCA of Western Stark County. This is the third year Kisling, Nestico & Redick is taking part in the event.
“We have 40 jumpers this year, including both lawyers and support staff,” said Brandy Brewer, director of operations at Kisling, Nestico & Redick. “It’s a great cause and it brings everyone together at the firm since we have participants from all our offices.”
In 2014, the firm raised $16,000 and Brewer said this year they are upping the ante to a goal of $20,000. “This is our 10-year anniversary as a firm so we have decided to go big with everything we do,” said Brewer. “This will be our kickoff event. All our jumpers will be wearing black tutus
even the men.
“Last year we had 12 inches of ice so workers had to drill through it before anyone could jump, we are hoping for better conditions.”
Brewer, who has jumped in the past, assures everyone that it’s “not as bad as you think.”
“It’s part of the culture at KNR to give back,” said Rob Nestico, managing partner at KNR. “The community supports us throughout the year and we’re very thankful so this is a way we can show our appreciation and do our part to give back to the community.
“It’s great to watch the amount of effort they put into raising money and planning for the event. The passion our employees have for helping other people makes me really proud to have them on my team.”
Summit County Court of Common Pleas Judge Todd McKenney is also participating this year.
“I have jumped at least twice in the past,” said Judge McKenney.
“Over the years, this event has supported some great community organizations, the AkronCanton Regional Foodbank being among them.
“One of the things I like is seeing everyone dress up in costumes. I think it would be great to conduct a wedding at the event and then have the bride and groom jump in. I would be willing to do so too, wearing my judicial robe,” said Judge McKenney.
The 12th annual Portage Lakes Polar Bear Jump takes place at Portage Lakes State Park at 5031 Manchester Rd. in Akron. The jump begins at 2 p.m.
Those looking to be part of the action must register online by Feb. 17. It’s also possible to register at noon on Feb. 21, but jumping times may vary. The cost is $5 with a minimum donation of $25. Just go to http://portagelakespolarbearclub.com
If you would like more information about this KNR Polar Bear Plunge news story or if you or someone you know is the victim of a personal injury accident, please contact Kisling, Nestico & Redick at 1-800-HURT-NOW or visit www.knrlegal.com.