(Jan. 25, 2019) “Mr. Peanuts Frozen Chozen Polar Bear Plunge Team,” a contingent of longtime Special Olympics Maryland advocates from the western shore, were welcomed by the Bearded Men's Society of Ocean City for its third annual destination plunge into the ocean, which launched from the Cork Bar on Wicomico Street and raised over five figures last Saturday.
Prior to taking an icy dip in frigid water, Lusby resident Robert Randall said team “Frozen Chozen” was on track to top last year’s tally following the conclusion of silent and live auctions that afternoon.
“We did $11,700 last year and we’re already at $10,000 before this party,” he said.
John McGuffin of Huntingtown credited his cohort for luring him into the ocean, which was around 40 degrees.
“Rob has been instrumental in starting this and I jumped on in terms of fundraising this year,” he said. “I’m at $1,300 for the team and … that means I’ve got to jump in the freezing water.”
Robb Dunne, with the Bearded Men's Society, said a dozen charitable souls traveled from outside Baltimore and D.C. for a weekend full of good deeds and fun times in the resort.
Ocean Pines resident Opie Buchanan, whose 6-year-old son, Brooks, was on hand for the wintertime plunge, credited Randall for inspiring the charity-driven gathering.
“They’ll drive all the way down … to be here for Rob Randall,” he said.
Noting the healthy blend of visitors and residents on hand, Buchanan said an overarching theme unites attendees.
“When you do good things for other people it makes you feel better and grateful for your own life,” he said.
Despite his young age, Brooks Buchanan failed to harbor any illusions prior to heading out to the sand and sea.
“I think it’s going to be cold,” he said.
Brooks Buchanan hopes others follow his lead in future years to increase the fiscal impact from the charitable endeavor.
“People can help people,” he said.
Opie Buchanan said his son exemplifies that sentiment, surviving despite being born two months premature while his mother, Kelly, underwent chemotherapy therapy for ovarian cancer.
In this case, apparently, people can also help bar sales, with Opie Buchanan noting the annual gathering has shattered sales records at the Cork Bar each year.
“When we did this three years ago [owner] Billy [Wilkins] told me we broke an offseason Saturday record for bar sales,” he said. “In the history of the Cork Bar this crew broke the ring on the register on a Saturday in the offseason.”
McGuffin said the “Mr. Peanuts Frozen Chozen” team was spearheaded by Randall and Rick Mulligan, with the moniker paying tribute to the latter’s father, Ralph Mulligan, a Special Olympics volunteer for nearly three decades who died in 2010.
Randall described the childhood bond formed with Rick Mulligan through involvement with the athletic competitions.
“His father and my father brought us up helping with Special Olympics since we were kids,” he said. “I would be on the field getting these guys ready.”
In addition to the Ocean City plunge, Randall and Mulligan’s team are also icing up for the 23rd annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge this Saturday at Sandy Point Park in Annapolis, which typically attracts roughly 10,000 plungers supporting more than 7,700 Special Olympics of Maryland athletes.
In addition to raising more than $7,500 for Saturday’s plunge at Sandy Point, Randall has collected roughly $22,000 for Special Olympics Maryland this year between the Ocean City event last week and two earlier gatherings on the western shore.
Reflecting back, Randall recalled shedding youthful tears of joy while assisting Special Olympics participants.
“That changed my whole life,” he said. “I get chills talking about it.”