CES Firefighters Jeff Tucker, Koury Eways, Jack Anderson, and Shawn Killian prepare for the Polar Bear plunge.
Warmhearted, committed to a cure, and crazy are just a few of the superlatives that are commonly used to describe that dedicated group of jumpers that annually head to Seward for a midwinter dip in Resurrection Bay know as the Polar Bear Jump. For many years Kathy Lopeman, an oncologist at Central Peninsula General Hospital has not only jumped herself, but lead a group that has become known as Lopeman's Leapers. There are those who have made the leap once to answer the challenge and have a lifetime experience to tell there grandkids about, but Lopeman made her 8th consecutive leap a few weeks ago, "If you ask my family they'll tell you I'm just plain crazy, but it's actually because I believe in the cause of the American Cancer Society, and my plan is to go for 10 consecutive years," said Lopeman.
This year Lopeman's Leapers were made up of Tom Hindman, who also has jumped 8 times, Pam Musgrove, 6 times, Tim Musgrove, 4 times, and Joni Focht, "Joni was our first year virgin leaper. We have raised well over $60,000 over the past years and are on our way to next year. Overall the jump raised $90,000 this year. These funds go to the American Cancer Society for research and patient programs. Such as travel, education, breast prosthesis, wig loaner closets, and support programs. All funds raised during ancillary events go to support the cancer kid's fund. Any child on the Kenai Peninsula with a cancer diagnosis can receive a grant to help out with any of their needs. The team total this year was $6,086 and we hope to double that next year," said Lopeman.
Lopeman's Leapers prepare to make their 8th plunge into icy Alaskan waters to kill cancer.
A former Lopeman Leaper formed his own team this year. Jeff Tucker gathered firefighters, Koury Eways, Jack Anderson, and Shawn Killian from the Central Emergency Service area to make the plunge and take a swipe at killing cancer. "Last year the Soldotna Rotary Club talked me into joining Kathy as the Club representative and this year a group of fire fighters wanted to jump on behalf of one of our guys who had to retire because of his battle with cancer, so we wanted to participate in the jump in his honor," said Tucker. The CES team raised some $5,000 for the American Cancer Society with their team effort.
Some jumpers have become creative in their leaping apparel which adds to the spectator event and photo opportunities, "We were dressed up to stomp out cancer, blast out cancer, slap out cancer, and catch it early. Of course Tim was our very own cancer and took the abuse well. It was a great jump. The water was warm and we would like to express a huge thank-you to all our loyal supporters who made donations to the cause and Mike Sweeney who provided the red union suits. We may start making public appearances in them to get ready for next year," added Lopeman.
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