Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Eldersburg family takes special plunge

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The choppy Chesapeake Bay waters called the Houck family of Eldersburg on Saturday for a good cause.

Kevin, daughter Kailey, 7, and son Kevin, 4, journeyed Saturday to Sandy Point State Park in Annapolis for the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge, which raises money for Special Olympics Maryland.

‘‘It wasn’t so bad getting into the water because the air was so cold,” said Houck, a seventh-year plunger. The bay’s water temperature hovered around 36 degrees while the air was also near freezing.

The annual fundraiser raised more than $3 million for the event last year, according to the Special Olympics Maryland Web site.

The figures for this year are being totaled as donations are still being accepted, according to a Special Olympics spokeswoman.

More than 7,400 people plunged into the bay for a few minutes. The daylong event also featured moon bounces, costume contests, food and a State Police helicopter tour, Houck said.

As a lifeguard in high school and college, Houck said he used to teach children with special needs how to swim. Helping children with special needs is still important to him, he noted, and is also his daughter treasures the opportunity.

‘‘Seeing how my daughter has embraced the morals and values I have and a good way as teaching,” means a lot, Houck said. ‘‘Helping other folks is something I think that shouldn’t be a chore to do.”

This year, Kailey raised $350 for the Maryland Special Olympics, and also dipped her feet in the cold bay waters, Houck said. Kailey raised $250 last year.

Houck joked that with as fast as Kailey raised money this year, they might have to bump it for $700 next year.

The family decided to go with costumes this year for the plunge. Houck was a shark, his son dressed as Nemo from ‘‘Finding Nemo,” and Kailey was a tae-kwon do girl.

With this being his son’s first plunge, Kailey took on a mentoring role, explaining the nuances and strategies of plunging, he said. This is Kailey’s third Polar Bear Plunge.

The Houcks will see an added member in the waters soon. Houck also has a 1-year-old son, Adam.

Houck said Kailey is already planning what to do when Adam is ready to plunge, saying the family could be like a school of fish.

Though the plunge is over, donation time for the Special Olympics is not.

People can either sponsor a plunger or make a general donation at

Cancer societyseeks helpers

The American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers for its annual Daffodil Days in Carroll County.

For 35 years, the American Cancer Society has been making a difference in the fight against cancer and providing hope for those facing the disease through its Daffodil Days program, according to a press release.

Daffodil Days involves offering daffodils every spring to donors in appreciation for their contributions.

‘‘It is about more than just giving beautiful flowers. It is everyone’s opportunity to share hope for a world free of cancer,” said Jen Burdette, American Cancer Society Eldersburg community manager.

Daffodil Days will be March 10-16. The American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers — anyone from school children to corporate CEOs — to assist in taking requests for and delivering daffodils during January, February and March.

Call the American Cancer Society’s Eldersburg office at 410-781-6907.

Carroll County residents have until Feb. 20 to place requests for daffodils. For a donation of $10, supporters will receive a bouquet of fresh-cut daffodils or a pot of mini-daffodil bulbs.

This year also marks the addition of Bea R. Hope, a special Boyds Bear designed exclusively for the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days Bear and a Bunch that is available for a donation of $25, which includes a bouquet of 10 daffodils.

Money raised through Daffodil Days enables the society to offer free programs and services that help people fight cancer with courage and optimism, while providing physical and emotional support and financial information to ease the cancer experience, according to a news release.

For information about Daffodil Days, to place an order or to become involved with the program, call Jen Burdette at 410-781-6907 or e-mail

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