I looked outside and saw ice still hanging from the trees. It was in that instance that I had a moment of weakness.
I called the Havelock Police Department.
"This is Ken Buday at the Havelock News," I said. "Do you know if they are still having the Polar Plunge today?"
After all, places farther north and west had some significant ice. Maybe the roads were too hazardous, even though the one outside my house was perfectly dry.
"Yes. They’re out there now getting set up," the response came.
The temperature was 38 degrees outside, and I was about to go swimming.
I made a pledge that I would take a dive as part of the police department’s Special Olympics fundraiser if I received $100 in pledges.
On Friday afternoon, just one day before the plunge, I was still short 40 bucks. Having seen the weather forecast — high temperatures in the upper 30s with a brisk wind — I figured I had dodged a major bullet.
In steps my dad. Now, I’d like to think my dad loves me. Yet, when he found out I was $40 shy of the goal, he was in my office in five minutes giving me the donation that allowed me to reach that 100-buck level and securing my spot in the pool.
He told me he was going to make sure that I jumped, no matter how much money it was going to cost him.
So with my $100 donation in hand and confirmation that indeed the event would take place, I took off for the Havelock Walmart.
As I got out of my truck near a pair of Havelock police cars and a fire truck, someone asked me what was going on. I told the couple it was a polar plunge to raise money for the Special Olympics. I also asked if they wanted to participate. I think they laughed at me.
As the time for the plunge came, I positioned myself to take a few photos for the newspaper. As the first group jumped into the pool of 55-degree water, some of it splashed me.
It was cold, as I had suspected.
Because I took pictures of everyone else, I was the last to make the leap. And after hearing it from the crowd and my fellow plungers, I took a leap and landed with a splash.
I popped up and tried my best to quickly exit the water. As I emerged, I grabbed my towel and my brother met me by the pool.
I thought: "How nice. My brother came out to support me." Instead, he offered me an ice cream bar. He’s not one to let the opportunity of a good ribbing go by, but I couldn’t help but laugh — and shiver.
Honestly, the cold really didn’t hit me until I had dried off enough and headed to my truck for the ride home. I eventually got in a hot shower to get warmed up.
Ten of us went into the water, and through the support of friends and relatives, about $1,300 was raised for the North Carolina Special Olympics.
The Havelock Police Department will continue to raise money for the Special Olympics with various events throughout the year, and its officers and staff will participate in the annual torch run — in the spring, when it will be much warmer.
The next fundraiser is a Valentine’s Day dinner cruise in New Bern. If you’re interested in a nice dinner, boat ride — and a much warmer alternative to raising money for the Special Olympics — you can call the Havelock Police Department at 447-3212.
Ken Buday is the editor and general manager of the Havelock News. He can be reached at 444-1999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.