DOWNTOWN — The Polar Bear Club is raising money to help three Chicago families before its annual plunge into the icy lake.
The group, famous for wading into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan while wearing costumes and little else, hopes to raise at least $35,000 before this January’s dip.
All of the money raised will go to three families who are struggling with cancer, a loved one’s suicide and a desire to improve their children’s lives, according to the group:
• Vashaun Rogers, 20, hopes to get a car so he can drive his mother, Verbena Rogers, to and from cancer treatment sessions. Vashaun Rogers had to drop out of college to help care for his mother and 12-year-old brother, Thaddeus.
• Nicole Rendon lost her husband and the father of her children, who are 18 and 23 years old, to suicide in 2014. She’s now struggling with Lupus but wants to “help others with similar emotional trauma heal themselves,” according to the Polar Bear Club.
• Lamonte and Diamond Lay are raising two daughters, 5 and 2, while holding down impactful but low-paying jobs (Lamonte is a youth advisor at Precious Blood Ministry in the Back of the Yards and Diamond helps seniors by driving for PACE). They are trying to provide their children with more opportunities than they were offered growing up.
The Polar Bear club has raised more than $360,000 since it started collecting donations in 2003, according to the group.
Donations can be made online. The Polar Plunge is noon Jan. 26 at Oak Street Beach, 1000 N. Lake Shore Drive.