The Lake Willoughby Plunge

Happy New Year!
My first thought is to know that my dad would be very proud of me not only for my committments, but living up to them even in adversity. Despite the weather warnings of sleet and freezing rain, I woke up early and packed to car to drive to northern VT for the “plunge”. Had I not sent that fundraising letter and told all my friends, after the crazy new year’s party at the Garlands… I really wanted to roll over and stay in my warm bed….
I loaded up Oakley and we hit the road, after weighing the options, I really needed to do this “thing” – if not just out of curiousity, but for my crazy “Indian” roots – this was indeed going to start my new year right. : )
I called Fred on my way to be sure the event wasn’t cancelled and he said it really was ok on the roads and the event was at 1 PM. First lesson – I could have slept in a little longer, if I had the right information. At that point I could take my time and drive safe through the slushing, greasy and sometimes frozen roads. A photo journey it became as I took photos in the crazy weather of the scenery and the white caps of the water.
Fred and his number one volunteer arrived about 11:30 in the furniture truck to double as a warm changing area for those that may want to use it. He said most have support that will have blankets and towels ready when they come out of the water. At this time I really am in disbelief that people will show up and “jump”, with the parking lot empty and the spitting rain and about 40 mph winds, the white caps seem to be increasing….. They clean out the beach area from the debris of trees and limbs that may have blown in as well as shovel snow from the “sign in” area, which was the warmest place to be, behind the truck that was blocking the cold wind. Fred said that last year the ice was all broken up and a real hazard to clear, they had to lay carpet out on the ice to walk to the “jump” spot and it was definitely tricky! Somehow that didn’t make me feel any warmer.. : )
Slowly people start to show up. 50 people signed up and raised money for the American Cancer Society – totalling more than $12,000 – Fred hoped to reach the $20K mark (although he said he would shave his head and really glad he didn’t have to shave it on such a cold day…). Everyone stayed in their cars – walked over to hand in their money, waiver and say hi to Fred, only to return to their cars to stay warm. Pretty funny to watch all the differnt folk arrive… One lady in a full length mink – takes off her clothes to show her one piece suit – her husband, signs her in and then escorts her to the water for her “jump”. Just amazing, the support that all these people have with them and the smiles …
At around 12:45 – Fred announces the first wave is ready to go – it is a flury of activity – people taking off their clothes to show their tshirt that is the “wetsuit” provided (branding at its best). People run in the water and dip their bodies in up to their neck and sometimes, just a little more. I stashed my bag with my camera, because Oakley couldn’t hold my towel…. I ran with my crocs on and lost one on the way… bummer! I turned back (afraid it would blow away the wind was so strong), put it back on and ran the rest of the way to “jump” and dip my entire body in the cold water. So funny! I smiled the whole way… looking around at all the people joining me – full of life! I grabbed my towel to stay warm and found my way to the truck to change. I asked this lady (a grandmother of the girl who jumped with her) to take my photo in my bikini to “prove” to my friends at home that I did it. : )
Leaving the scene at about 1:15, (the event must have been 1/2 hour tops!) I said thank you to my new friends, said hi to the channel 3 guy who was interviewing Fred for the 6 oclock news and made way to my car to get some warm socks on. Thanks to Fred and his number one volunteer… the people, the flavor of Vermont… it makes my heart warm and I look forward to next year. Jessica has already said she will join me.
Top 3 learnings:
1. You can never be too out of the box, sometimes it just takes a little passion.
2. If you make a committment – stick to it – you never know who is counting on you.
3. You can never be too old, too proud or too rich to do something crazy and make a real difference – not only in your life, but others.
And yes – it was invigorating, life changing and if you can take anything away from my story please try something crazy this year! Make your list and get started today.
~Nancy (aka: Lake Willoughby Jumper 2007)
Check out the photos!
And it is not too late to send me a donation – Fred said I can mail him my collected money. Thank you to Dr. Bob, Paulette and Sharon for your donations!

Sometimes you wonder why you do the things you do – or should I say that I wonder why I do the things I DO….. and some days believe it or not I struggle with the day to day aspects of life, …”can I get it all done”? Then you get a call – a wake up call so to speak – that helps you remember why ….
My friend/collegue Naomi pointed out how she was impressed with my writing and gave me the encouragement to submit my work, so at that point in time I thought I should share my “cute” story as a letter to the editor. Not knowing if it ever got published, I was satified knowing I had shared with at least those in the editing room. : ) I submitted it to the Calendonia Gazette – a small hometown Lyndonville, VT newspaper – – I had gone online and noted that the article written about the plunge was brief and just a copy of what they had written the year before, just with this year’s weather and numbers.
In an animated light the other night at dinner I shared with my friends / collegues Peg and Louise all about my Lake Willoughby experience and the people I met and how crazy I felt from the time I woke up until the drive home, with the “people watching” scenerio I in detail below spelled out and shared with so many. When I got into the office the next morning there was a voice mail from Linda. She left her 802 (Vermont) number and a brief message, so I called her first thing – – she was headed out skiing and would love to talk to me and “tell me her story”. I then had to ask – “What is this in regards to?” – not knowing this Linda and she acted like she knew me…..
“Well – I am the lady in the ‘mink’ coat – your article in the paper was so well written I had to call you and tell you my story. That coat is actually 100 years old and made of bear – my dad, rest his soul, would love to know that it was mistaken for mink!” she stated – “I am 75 years old and a cancer survivor and I know how much fighting cancer means to you – I really would like to talk to you more.”
I mentioned that I didn’t see the article and she is going to send it my way. Thanks again to Fred for sharing my number with this wonderful woman and I will continue the saga with the published story and more on Linda – stay tuned…..
Remember – it isn’t WHAT you do every day – it is WHO is affected and the people that are there to benefit from the research, the education, the advocacy and service and believe in our mission. It is the money that we raise, that THEY raise that funds the mission and it is their stories that keeps us going and working as smart and hard as we can to find a cure.
Thank you to all my collegues, friends and volunteers that I meet each day that continue my passion in working for the mission of the American Cancer Society. Have a great day!

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Nancy Cook 2021

About Nancy

Nancy Peck Cook is a trainer and speaker who has presented in front of large and small audiences for the past 25 years.  Her work as an executive and volunteer trainer for the American Cancer Society during the growth of the signature activity Relay For Life trained professionals to be more confident and successful in their roles. 

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