Albuquerque hosts annual ‘Polar Bear Plunge’ fundraiser

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – On Saturday, the City of Albuquerque held its third annual “Al’burrr’querque Polar Bear Plunge.” It’s not only an event full of thrills, but it’s for a special cause too.

“It’s a good way to start the year. Yeah, I think it’ll be fun.”

At the Sierra Vista Pool on the west side of Albuquerque, people were ready for the cold dip being hosted by the City of Albuquerque.

“The Al’burrr’querque Polar Plunge. This is the third year that we’ve done this, this is the third annual beginning in 2020, 2022,” said Josh Herbert, an aquatics division manager for the CABQ’s Parks and Recreation Department. 

In order to take a cold plunge, or a longer chilly ride down the slide, people had to pay for the event.

“So our regular funds into the pool is $40 and the reason why we set it at $40 is our swimming lessons costs $40,” said Herbert. 

But all that money is to help local children in the community.

“So the proceeds for this are all the donations received, more registrations, go towards putting someone in need through swimming lessons,” Herbert said. 

The scholarship fund didn’t come out of nowhere either, it was started in honor of Shanta Hanish – a former lifeguard who was tragically murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2019.

“Shanta Hanish was one of our head guards, and she was one of our leaders, she worked at the Highland pool. She taught swimming lessons, she taught lifeguard classes,” said Herbert. “We decided to start that scholarship in her name so her memory and her passion lives on.”

Just a few years in, the Polar Plunge has shown promise in its good cause coupled with the freezing cold fun.

The city surpassed their goal of fundraising for this plunge making around $2,600 – that’s enough free swim lessons for more than 60 children. 

Overall, it’s a fun and chilly way for locals to give back to the youth community in town.

“It just gives it so much more meaning when the money that you’re putting towards a foundation just goes so much further,” said Herbert.