By Meghan Creane
Jumping into a pool of icy water on a snowy, 30-degree day may not seem like the ideal Sunday afternoon activity, but if you ask any of the participants in the Dutchmen Dip, they will tell you otherwise.
The two organizers of the event, Maria Dreeszen ‘14 and Kaitlyn Suarez ‘15 have a clear passion for community service, and in this case helping Kristen Shinebarger.
When coming up with their big winter term fundraiser, the girls had this idea in the front of their minds. “It was specifically for Kristen,” said Suarez, “I don’t know if we would have done something like this if we didn’t have her for our inspiration.” They wanted a fundraiser that would have the ability to get the whole school to rally behind Kristen, as they have proven to do before with events like Pink at the Rink and EVENT.
Both Dreeszen and Suarez “wanted to do something big that hasn’t happened before,” and, with the help of Director Matt Milless and the rest of Student Activities, the Dutchman Dip was made possible.
Prior to the Dip, Dreeszen and Suarez had not met Kristen, they had only heard the story of the 10-year-old who is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, for the second time and recently had her leg amputated as a result.
The girls were thrilled to meet Kristen for the first time as well as having her appear at the Dip “for everyone to see the face of the project.”
Suarez noted that they hoped seeing a bunch of rowdy and costumed college students jump into an ice cold pool in the snow would “help raise her spirits and give her something fun to start off her week.”
Any questions Dreeszen or Suarez had about the number of participants they would have was immediately disbanded upon the arrival of various Greek houses, clubs, sports teams and other “dippers.”
On the day they had over 60 dippers and raised over $800 on site, bringing the total donations above the $9,000 mark.
If you are interested in donating, the fundraising website will be up and accepting donations until the end of the term.
The girls are “confident that [they’ll] hit $10,000 and possibly [their] goal of $15,000.” Dreeszen counts this event among her “top three moments at Union” given “that so many people participated, watched and donated.”
Kristen’s face was alive with laughter during the entire event, her personal highlight being when she pushed Matt into the water.
A team Kristen is particularly attached to is the men’s ice hockey team, four of whom participated in the Dip.
Tyson Fulton ‘15, Sam Coatta ‘15, Theo DiPauli ‘16 and David Roy ‘16 represented the team by going out to “support Kristen and her family and spend time with her,” said Fulton.
Fulton also noted that Kristen “is a great young girl and I’m always thinking about her. She has inspired my teammates and myself, and she will always be a part of our team.”
Another team that came out in support of Kristen was the men’s lacrosse team, which sent Devyn Jeffereis ‘14, Nolan Connors ‘13 and Greg Mooney ‘14.
Jeffereis was happy “to see so many different teams, Greek organizations and clubs coming out to support Kristen and her cause.”
He also said that we should all be able to draw inspiration from “her ability to keep such a positive outlook in such difficult circumstances.”
Dreeszen and Suarez have been praised for this highly successful event, and in response, they responded: “This is Colleges Against Cancer, this is what we’re here for.”