The forecast predicted 43 degrees and rain, but that didn’t stop nearly 150 students from jumping into a pool of freezing cold water in the middle of March. Though it may sound insane, these students were actually participating in the third annual Dutchmen Dip.
The Colleges Against Cancer Club has been organizing this event for the past three years, and the purpose is to raise money for a small group of people in the Union community who are battling cancer.
This year the donations went to the families of Kaitlyn Suarez ‘15, Justin Lloyd ‘16 and Kristen Shinebarger, the 13 year-old daughter of Shelly Shinebarger, Union’s Director of Student Services.
The event this year was the biggest yet, reaching the goal of $15,000 just a few days after the event. It was held at 1pm on Saturday, March 14, 2015, and students and faculty gathered in front of Reamer Campus Center in the cold light rain in order to participate, despite the fact that finals were just around the corner.
Students attending the event all seemed impressed by the turnout, with many of them holding their phones above the crowd to get full panoramic pictures and videos. A time lapse video taken by a camera perched high above the crowd captured the scale and energy of the crowd below.
A large throng of people gathered at the end of the slip and slide, getting splashed continuously by the participants sliding headfirst into the freezing pool of water, laughing and enjoying themselves despite the cold weather.
Overall, spirits were high as the community came together to support their own.
Though this event may on the surface have just seemed like a fun and creative study break, the true purpose of the event was not lost on anyone in attendance.
In a moving speech, Shelly Shinebarger thanked the crowd of students and faculty for supporting her daughter in her four year long battle with Ewing’s Sarcoma. The event was originally organized in 2013 by Kaitlyn Suarez ‘15 and Maria Dreeszen ‘14 solely to benefit the Shinebarger family.
This year, in addition to the Shinebargers, the families of Justin Lloyd, a former Union student who transferred to Boston College this past year in order to be closer to home and Kaitlyn Suarez will also receive the donations.
Suarez has been battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on and off for the past six years, and in August of 2014, she relapsed again after three years in remission. This is her fourth battle with the disease.
Despite being away from school this year to undergo treatment, she continued to play an integral role in the planning of the Dutchmen Dip, and was thrilled with the outcome of the event.
“Three years ago, I was founding this event to help a young girl in the community who was battling cancer. This year, the same event is helping me. What goes around comes around. It is amazing how quickly things change. All of the support and love means the world to me. I am blessed with a community of amazing supporters!” she said in a Facebook post on the day of the event.
Laura Schaffer ‘17 and Caroline Hartnack ‘16 are the co-Presidents of the club, and given that the Dutchmen Dip is the club’s biggest event of the year, they spent winter term tirelessly planning and organizing in an attempt to make it the most successful Dutchmen Dip yet.
“Of course, the primary purpose of the Dutchmen Dip is to raise funds for Union College students and community members who are currently undergoing cancer treatments. However, we have recognized that this cause and event also serve as a way of bringing the entire campus community together. Campus-wide involvement before, during, and after the event was present on a number of levels. Individual students, teams, clubs, and other campus organizations [and their friends and families] donated their time, money, and voices to our cause and helped raise a great deal of money, support, and enthusiasm,” Schaffer said of the role the event plays in campus life.
“Overall, Caroline [Hartnack] and I could not be more ecstatic with the event. For this 3rd annual Dutchmen Dip we had a record number of supporters, a record number of donations [over $16,000!], a record number of people who took the ‘dip’ and a record number of spectators at the event [despite the gloomy weather and upcoming finals week]. We were and continue to be so grateful for the outpouring of support from the Union College community and beyond.”
Raising money for the event became a campus-wide project as sports teams, sororities, fraternities, faculty, professors and parents all made contributions. Suarez wrote on the rally page for the event, “There is a lot of ugliness in cancer treatment: physical wounds, sickly bald physiques and a loss of spirit. But in all of that darkness is where Union shines the brightest. The beauty in cancer treatment is seeing an entire community join forces to remind us that we don’t fight alone, that we aren’t forgotten and that we can do it.”
The Dutchmen Dip has set a remarkable trend of Union’s campus coming together to support their own, and each year it has been more successful than the last.