For many of the 2,600 Virginia Beach plungers, this wasn’t their first time crashing into the bitter-cold Atlantic Ocean waves, but first-timer, Ana Filpo has had the pre-plunge jitters since her first day at Virginia Natural Gas (VNG) six months ago.
Ana started working for VNG as an Office Assistant in September and has been hearing about the Virginia Beach Polar Plunge ever since. “My colleagues joked with me that I needed to take the Plunge as my initiation into the company and I told myself that I would just participate this year and then I wouldn’t do it again, but now I can’t wait for next year,” Ana said.
VNG’s participation in the Polar Plunge dates back to 2002 with over $301,000 in corporate support and $276,772 in team fundraising efforts for a total of $577,000. On top of the financial support, VNG volunteers can be spotted on the beach all week assisting with important setup logistics.
“Before working for VNG, I never knew that the Polar Plunge was for Special Olympics Virginia,” she said. “I previously worked for a non-profit head start agency in Suffolk where we had children with special needs aka ‘super powers’, so this made the Polar Plunge very meaningful to me.”
After learning more about the Plunge, it didn’t take long for Ana to dive into creative Plunge fundraising ideas. She spent her evenings and weekends baking fresh banana bread to sell at work with all proceeds going to her Plunge page.
“This year I raised $600, but I’m already looking forward to going harder on the fundraising next year and I am challenging myself to get more people involved in the event as well,” said Ana.
Aside from the Polar Plunge itself, Ana said one of her favorite memories from the weekend was attending the Friday night Pre-Plunge party, “It was fun to meet other VNG colleagues and to hear about why they Plunge every year.”
For anyone looking to take the Plunge for the first time next year Ana’s advice is to embrace it and not let the fear of going into the water stop you from supporting an important cause. She added, “it’s one of the best experiences I’ve ever had and I can’t wait for next year.”