Mark Hayward's City Matters: Readers come through for frustrated Penguin Plunger
Several readers contacted the New Hampshire Union Leader on Thursday after City Matters reported about Kimball getting shut out of the Penguin Plunge last year. A Special Olympics athlete and guest speaker for the organization, Kimball couldn't take the plunge after his efforts to raise the minimum $350 donation fell short.
"I have been fortunate in my life and I would like to help Jason take his well-deserved plunge," wrote John Melanson in an email. A Manchester native, Melanson wrote an email from his warm office in Tupelo, Miss., where he works as an information specialist for Toyota North America.
"I'm very happy," Kimball said by telephone. Kimball said he spoke to his track and field coach, who told him not to be surprised if offers came in. "I'm like — wow. The paper just came out."
He didn't try to raise the money for this year's event, which takes place Feb. 2 at Hampton Beach. But given the pledges he received on Thursday, Kimball said he will participate.
John Antonellis wrote that he and his wife are blessed with healthy children and grandchildren.
"I always thought the ocean was open to everyone," Antonellis wrote. "This is our way of letting Jason and all other disabled individuals know that other people stand behind them to help in any way we can." Special Olympics New Hampshire, which puts on the event, has also heard from people interested in supporting Kimball, said Mary Conroy, president and chief-executive of the organization.
In fact, one Special Olympic athlete is adamant about keeping the minimum intact.
"If everyone could just jump in for free, nobody would want to raise the money," she wrote in an email, adding: "At $350 what I get out of Special Olympics is well worth it. I follow the rules, like everyone else should."
"I am also in a position to help out financially and give back a little," wrote Steven Maniglia, who offered to pay the $350. "I have thought about doing the Polar Plunge myself," he wrote, "but am admittedly, too chicken — I hate the cold!"