On a frigid New Year’s morning, five Hershey Bears players look onward at the “beach” on City Island in Harrisburg. They are about to take the dive into the Susquehanna River for the annual “Penguin Plunge” that benefits the Harrisburg Humane Society. It’s a cause near and dear to Bears defenseman Tyson Strachan.
The newcomer to the Chocolate and White this season is raising awareness though his charity, Strachan Strays. “We deal exclusively with no kill shelters in every area we’ve played in with the Strachan Strays charity,” said Tyson before the event. “We raise awareness and money for charities like this. A few of their guys and their girlfriends jumped on board. As you look around you see a lot more people who have raised money and are getting ready to jump in the water.”
Strachan was joined by goaltender David Leggio and forwards Derek Whitmore, Casey Wellman, and John Mitchell for the swim in the icy waters. For Mitchell, this isn’t his first time in cold water. “Not into a river or big body of water, but I’ve sat in a cold tub before. This is a whole new event for me.”
The plunge didn’t take long. Each of the Bears were in-and-out of the water in less than 30-seconds. “I am freezing right now,” said Casey Wellman after stepping into the Susquehanna. “My feet, I can’t even feel them. That was really cold. I started getting in, and I was like ‘You know what, this isn’t that bad.’ Then I got about waist high and I was just in shock. Oh my gosh, that was cold.”
The event raised $40,000 for the Humane Society, with $1,200 coming from the Bears.
Below the jump, check out photos of the guys braving the cold water for a good cause.