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Annual Plunge for Charity returns to the Marina

BRATTLEBORO—After a one-year hiatus, the Marina Restaurant’s Plunge for Charity is back.

On April 29, starting at 3 p.m., people will be jumping from a boat into the frigid water of the West River to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro.

Founder and organizer Deirdre “Dee” Baker of Brattleboro is usually the first one in the water, but she’s been ordered by her doctors to sit this one out. She was diagnosed with cancer last summer, and while she says she’s feeling better, six surgeries and radiation treatment have taken a toll on her overall health.

“You gotta do what you gotta do,” she said. “I’m due for another surgery on May 1, but it’s all good.”

“My son, Lucas Rawson, is going to jump in my place,” she added. “He has no idea how cold it’s going to be.”

The event has grown over the past eight years.

“The first year, we raised $1,500 [for The Gathering Place, an adult day care center], and we were ecstatic,” Baker said. “The last one we did, in 2010, raised more than $15,000 for the Windham County Heat Fund.”

Baker said the Plunge has been organized to help Brattleboro charities. The inspiration came in 2003 when several Marina employees jumped into the river to celebrate a birthday. The following year, they decided to make it an annual event for charity.

The results of a previous fundraiser will be seen on April 29. The Brattleboro Dive Team, the water-rescue arm of the Brattleboro Fire Department, bought new scuba gear with the $12,000 that was raised for them in 2009.

Other beneficiaries of the Plunge include the Windham Child Care Association, the Windham County Humane Society, and Brattleboro Area Hospice.

The dive team plays an important role in the event each year, Baker said, because its members stay in the water to guide the plungers back to the pontoon boat that’s used as the jump platform, anchored about 30 feet from the shore.

Water temperatures usually hover around 40 degrees.

Baker said many children from the Boys & Girls Clubs plan to participate in the plunge, joining her 14-year-old son, who is also a club member.

The plunge had to be cancelled in 2011, because crews were rebuilding The Marina after a July 2010 fire that destroyed the restaurant.

The Marina reopened for business last summer. Baker said she hopes to be back behind the bar later this summer if she’s feeling better.

“I don’t know what I’d do without all the support of my family and the community,” she said.

In spite of her own health struggles, Baker says she’s excited to see the Plunge return. “At the end of the day, when we count up all the money, it’s an incredible feeling,” she said.

For more information about the Plunge for Charity, or to make a pledge or donation, visit www.vermontmarina.com. Pledge forms are available at the restaurant and at the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, 17 Flat St.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #148 (Wednesday, April 18, 2012).

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