Photo: Contributed Photo / Michael P. Walsh, City Of West Haven
WEST HAVEN — Let’s face it, any town with a beach can have a couple of hundred people strip to their skivvies on the frozen tundra some Saturday in the darkest days of January, then dash into the icy surf to raise money to fight breast cancer.
But West Haven isn’t just any town.
So on Jan. 13, the by-now well-established 18th Annual Icy Plunge for the Cure, organized on Savin Rock Beach each year by the city’s Breast Cancer Awareness Committee, will be just the first epic episode of a two-part extravaganza.
It will be followed by the first-ever Spike for the Cure beach volleyball tournament on nearby Sea Bluff Beach, organizers said.
Both events will benefit breast cancer research and education, said city Human Resources Commissioner Beth Sabo, a founding member of the committee, which was established in 2001.
The plunge itself starts at 9 a.m., with sign-ups beginning at 7:30 a.m.
Then, just as plungers begin to stop shivering, the volleyball tournament will begin at 11 a.m.
The two events will go to help support the work done at Yale New Haven Health’s Smilow Cancer Hospital in New Haven, including the creation of loose-leaf binders full of support information that are given to all breast cancer patients, Sabo said.
Proceeds from the West Haven fundraising also help support a hospitality cart that provides snacks for patients who are waiting for treatment at the hospital, she said.
More than 200 people took part in last year’s plunge, which raised about $30,000, said Sabo, who oversees West Haven’s Department of Parks & Recreation.
According to Sabo, the beach volleyball tournament was the idea of Diane Dietman, recreation program coordinator for the Park-Rec Department.
“Park-Rec always has a beach volleyball league in the summer” and earlier in the year “Diane came up to me and said, ‘How about having a beach volleyball tournament to raise money for breast cancer?’” Sabo said.
When word began to spread, “They got a lot of their existing teams to participate,” she said.
Sea Bluff Beach, where the Spike for the Plunge will take place, is the same place where the city’s summer league competes — although it’s likely to be a little different in January from what most folks are used to at the spot.
“Obviously, it’s more intriguing if there’s snow on the ground…” said Sabo. “I think the beach volleyball tournament will be great … and it’s all for raising money for breast cancer.”
The Icy Plunge for the Cure will take place as usual at Savin Rock Beach, behind the Savin Rock Conference Center off Captain Thomas Boulevard.
The Spike for the Cure will take place at 11 a.m., a brisk walk or short drive away at Sea Bluff Beach off Ocean Avenue.
Registration for the plunge is in the Savin Rock Conference Center, 6 Rock St. The first 100 people to register will receive “plungewear.” The top fundraiser will receive a prize.
Participants will wait on the beach for the signal to charge into the Long Island Sound surf — sorry, no wetsuits allowed.
Organizers anticipate another strong turnout this year, with several city, police and fire departments forming teams and issuing challenges to one another to help raise the stakes and more money, organizers said in a news release.
After the plunge, organizers will hold a raffle, with prizes donated by area businesses.
Sabo said the plunge is a celebration of survivors and a remembrance of loved ones who have died of the disease.
Registration forms are available in the Department of Human Resources on the second floor of City Hall, 355 Main St.
Pledges for the plunge must be handed in the day of the event, Sabo said in the release. Checks are payable to the West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Program.
Proceeds have previously gone to the Smilow Breast Center at Yale New Haven Hospital and Looking Forward, an education and wellness program for cancer patients at Smilow.
For information or to sponsor the plunge, call Sabo at 203-937-3558.
For the Spike for the Cure, Park-Rec is registering six-person teams for the single-elimination tournament. The team entry fee is $100.
Register at the department’s Painter Park office, 190 Kelsey Ave. Checks are payable to the West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Program.
The tourney winner will receive a prize, said organizer Dietman.
For information or to sponsor the tournament, call Park-Rec at 203-937-3651.
Send donation checks to the West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Program, Department of Human Resources, 355 Main St., West Haven, 06516.