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People Plunge In Philippi For Eighth Year

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For the eighth year in a row, more than a dozen hardy souls gathered on the banks of the Tygart Valley River to brave the waters for the annual polar plunge. Proceeds from the plunge support the Barbour County Emergency Squad, a cause that's important organization to organizer Sam Muncy of the Barbour River Rats.

"They came out and saved my son one time, and they're always struggling for some money and equipment, and I like to help them as much as I can," said Muncy.

And thanks to Muncy and the plunge, the squad has been able to make some big improvements. The funds raised have helped keep the county's ambulances stocked with supplies, and added some big pieces of gear for them as well.

"You know, last few years, we've been able to purchase the new striker stair chairs, which helps us a lot, because one man can operate that piece of equipment and bring people down flights of stairs," said BCES's Matt Knotts.

While those who take the plunge are happy to help out, they say that from a certain point of view, there's a lot of fun to be had by diving in those frigid waters!

"I think it's just the fact that it's kind of a new year's renewal ritual. And the water's not that bad, so it's kind of fun to do it," said plunger Aaron Cross.

Cross has been plunging with the River Rats for a few years now, but for Kathy Hamby and Sierra Mauller of Philippi, their first New Year's Day plunge day may be the first of many.

They say despite some pain and fear from the cold, they'll look forward to the next time they can take a polar plunge again.

Muncy said the event is expected to raise more than $1,500 for the BCES.