Last week was the sixth time that Kathy Lopeman, a well-loved nurse at the Oncology Infusion Center at Central Peninsula General Hospital, leaped into the frigid waters of Resurrection Bay. This time Kathy added to the adventure by wrapping herself in a string of electric lights. "It's for such a good cause, and the crazier you can be the less you think about how cold the water is going to be, and I was representing the Bright Light of Hope, which is what I do this for, the hope that we can find a cure for cancer," said Lopeman. Kathy points out that it's not something you want to do at home or at the beach. Her lights were battery operated and her husband wrapped the bulbs before she took the leap, "I didn't even notice the electrical shock, when you're in the water you forget all about the other things. It's a matter of where is the ladder and how quick can I get out of here. The first 15 or 20 feet up the ladder are really, really cold, but then the adrenaline rush and excitement of what you've done takes over it's not really that bad. I'm ready to go for next year," added Lopeman, who has set a goal of making ten Polar Bear jumps.
The 2003 Polar Bear Jump this year raised over $101,000 for cancer research for the American Cancer Society. Kathy became a Soldotna Rotary Club member for a day in making the jump and is also sponsored by the VFW Auxiliary and many other personal and private contributors. On her own, Kathy raised $4,442 and her team total this year was $7,009. The Polar Bear Jump has become such a popular event they have had to limit the participation to 40 teams, "You have to have an established team and you want to turn your registration in early, because the earlier you turn it in the lower your number is, and you don't want to stand in the cold and wait to be the number 40 jumper," said Lopeman. The event drew over 2,500 spectators this year who turn out annually to see the jumpers in their costumes.
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