Arnold resident Virginia Jenkins is not a cold-water person, but she’ll be plunging into the Chesapeake Bay on Saturday in memory of her late husband.
It’s been three years since the death of her husband, Garry. Ever since, Jenkins has continued his beloved tradition of plunging in each year’s Plunge Fest, partly because she’s grown to understand and respect the cause.
“I always thought he was crazy,” Jenkins said. “Now, though, not so much.”
Virginia and Garry were longtime friends of the Plunge Fest’s originator, Tom Schniedwind. They were all classmates together at Severn School. It was through that relationship that Garry started plunging, and 16 years later, the tradition continues.
The year after his death, the Super Plungers, the most hardcore of plungers who dive into the Bay for a 24-hour period each year, did a memorial plunge in Garry’s memory.
Jenkins and her friends even formed a plunge team in his name, Garry’s Gang. They’ll be at Sandy Point State Park on Saturday to continue his tradition. Their team T-shirts have a picture of him, wearing a wacky hat that he wore to his last plunge in 2009. It’s a striking yellow, crocheted hat with Budweiser cans sewn into it.
“That hat is truly a work of art,” Jenkins said, laughing.
The money that plungers get in pledges benefits Special Olympics Maryland, which uses the funds to support its athletes. Meeting those special individuals changed Jenkins’ perspective on the plunge, and why her husband was so dedicated to it.
“I never really thought I was a plunge person, until I met the athletes. You meet them and it puts a whole different spin on things,” Jenkins said. “They have a courage that I don’t think somebody without disabilities could ever understand. They have a kindness and a bravery that’s unbelievable.
“We do it because of the Special Olympics, but also to honor his memory. That was very dear to his heart, and very special, that charity to him,” she said.
Join Jenkins and thousands of other Marylanders at 8 a.m. Saturday at Sandy Point State Park on the tip of the Broadneck Peninsula for Plunge Fest 2012.
For more information on the plunge, visit http://www.PlungeMD.com