New Year’s Day 9:30am, when most folks are looking for Advil or perhaps their car, in Coeur d’Alene you’ll find 400+ runners/joggers/walkers lined up behind Michael D’s for a 5-mile run for a great cause. After joining in for my self-coined 1st Annual Downtown “TRY”athlon, I quickly realized what a great group of warm folks are getting involved in this chilly event.
So, why would anyone want to run in 12-degree temperatures on New Year’s Day? Perhaps for the camaraderie, some like the challenge, and, most importantly, because it’s for a great cause.
Meet Tesh, Inc.: a local non-profit with operations in Coeur d’Alene and Sandpoint. This wonderful organization has been around since 1976 and has been hosting the Hangover Handicap for 39 years. Throughout the year their mission is to “offer choices and opportunities to people of all ages with disabilities or other challenges who are seeking greater independence, self-sufficiency, and participation in their community.”
I thought it good to mention what our community does this for – other than the obvious challenge of running with frozen feet over a scenic 5-mile course. After all, it wouldn’t hurt to know how to get involved in a worthy cause in the New Year.
A couple hours later (after polishing off a celebratory breakfast at Michael D’s) – just a short stroll to Sander’s Beach – you’ll find over 1,000 people socializing prior to the Annual Polar Bear Plunge. The math on the amount of people who actually jump into the frigid waters is an exercise in fractions, but those that do are greeted to an exhilarating, albeit near-death experience of 40-degree water and the sounds of screaming participants running for their towels.
This event is getting bigger and bigger each year. This was my second splash and I must confess, felt like the coldest one so far. I survived, so did everyone else, but what I missed this year was that even this exercise in insanity is also for a cause.
As we left the beach still trying to find feeling in our toes, it was a good reminder to us that the caring people of St. Vincent de Paul were taking donations and accepting clothing for the community’s poor and homeless. And, even though most only pack a towel for the event, it’s never too late to go take a bag of clothing to one of St. Vinny’s three thrift stores or even donate online anytime in 2016.
This year and every year, they will be caring for the less fortunate and providing warming centers for those who don’t have a place to call home. The least we can do is partner in their efforts because they are such an important part of our community.
It’s days like this in our town of Coeur d’Alene a new year brings awareness of new challenges and new dreams – all the while comes with the realization that no matter what the temperature is outside, the warmth of the spirit of the people participating in great events attached to great causes is something truly worthwhile.
See you next year – and feel free to join me on my 2nd Annual “TRY”athlon in 2017. If we can get one more person to join me – it will be a 100% increase in participation.
Make it a year to remember!