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Letter: Reflecting on the dip

I want to take a moment to comment on this past weekend's Deep Freeze Dip and to thank the many people involved that made it all happen.

As the story has been told many times, it was a dream of mine 14 years ago when I came to Worthington to be able to offer a program to our community that would help give young children the necessary swim skills to be around water and to enjoy it in a safe manner. I have been involved in other communities and knew what an impact it could have.

Of course, many years had passed until December 2011, when there was a conversation in a Y Board meeting and an idea brought forward by Mike Woll about piggy backing off the previous summer's heroic efforts of Jami Cummings that saved a young girl and her mother in Lake Okabena. To offer this type of a program, we had see if there was a way to get the Deep Freeze Dip to consider raising the necessary funds for the program to get started, as it did the previous two years for the Honor Flight.

Well, that was a short conversation. Chad Cummings with Radio Works and the Winterfest Crew, the local schools and the rest of the group involved with the dip "jumped in" on the idea, and we were off and running with last year's efforts. The program was then so successful last spring in giving swim lessons to all Nobles County second-graders. The program last spring, from start to finish, was an overwhelming experience to say the least.

As we looked forward to this year's program, the Dip folks offered to do another year for the JC Learn to Swim Program. They then set their sights on raising an additional $25,000 on top of last year's $15,000 to help this year's program and sustain some years beyond, so that we could then show our accomplishments and the foundation for the future that had been laid. We will be able to seek additional funding sources to help this program be sustained long into the future so we hopefully will not have another almost-tragedy as we did on that fateful day. Last year's program cost about $10,000.

The additional challenge this year that was laid out was CJ Nelson's quest to get me to jump. I let him know that if he could raise $10,000 from new jumpers in 2013, I would go with him. Well, not only did he get the necessary $10,000, they raised more than that. My obligation was to be filled on Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Way to go, CJ, and your entire team of jumpers!

As I write today, the day has passed. It was a very cold one at that; what a wonderful Midwest winter day in Minnesota. We had Winterfest with so much support from the folks at Radio Works and the community. We had Pond Hockey games on one side of the lake, a walk and run and Stingray Swim Meet at the Y, a fishing contest all over the lake, a Winterfest Queen was again crowned ... and then, finally, more than 40 jumpers entered that cold dark hole in the ice. I followed Jami Cummings to jump. I can honestly say I haven't been that scared in a long time, but what I know is: Yes, the water is cold, it is not fun to get out, but when you do ... you are so invigorated you can't help but be excited for the reason you just did it -- the kids, and learning a life-long skill. That is enough for me!

Anyway, as of today, we aren't quite at the $25,000 goal. It would be great to get there, so let us know if you still want to support the cause. Donations can be dropped off at the Y, Radio Works or Worthington Federal.

Other than that, I am humbled to be a part of such a great event and cause. Thank you to Chad Cummings and Radio Works for the ongoing incredible amount of recorded and live promotion for the event; it was very much appreciated. Thanks to Southwest Minnesota Fishing Club for their support with the entire event and day; the local Fire and Rescue Staff for keeping us all safe; Pizza Ranch for the two Impact Fundraising nights in support of the event; the Daily Globe for the coverage; and the many, many donors that contributed with their pledges and support. To Jami Cummings, thanks for inspiring the more than 40 jumpers this year and more than 25 last year that took the dip.

Everyone's efforts are greatly appreciated. Believe me, they will have significant impact on hundreds of lives in our community. All of you deserve a pat on the back and should feel great about what you have done.