More than 400 individuals braved the frigid waters of Lucky Peak Reservoir in Boise, Idaho, to participate in the 21st annual Gebert-Arbaugh Polar Bear Challenge, all in support of Make-A-Wish Idaho. This charitable event, which took place on January 6th, aimed to raise funds to fulfill the wishes of children in need. Janie Best, the President and CEO of Make-A-Wish Idaho, expressed her gratitude for the overwhelming response, stating that they had already raised enough money to grant 12 wishes, with the number expected to rise even further.
Best highlighted the significance of these wishes, mentioning that the average cost for fulfilling a wish is approximately $7,500. She emphasized that children can wish for anything their hearts desire. Interestingly, a new trend has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, where some children have chosen to use their wish to benefit others or donate it to another organization. Best revealed that five children in the past year have selflessly made such wishes.
All proceeds from the Polar Bear Challenge are directed to Make-A-Wish Idaho. Last year alone, the organization granted 127 wishes to children suffering from critical illnesses. The event has come a long way since its inception, with a humble attendance of 36 individuals in its first year. This year, they are on track to fulfill over 140 wishes, reflecting the growing support and impact of the event.
Larry Gebert’s son, David di Donato, also attended the challenge and marveled at its magnitude. He described the experience as both exhilarating and fun, despite the bone-chilling temperatures. Di Donato’s upbringing, with his father enjoying skiing every weekend throughout the winter, played a significant role in shaping the event’s concept. He expressed his delight in seeing people come together during the winter season to jump into freezing water. What started as a small gathering has now blossomed into a grand occasion.
When asked about his father’s reaction to the turnout, di Donato believed that Gebert would be immensely proud. He expressed his gratitude to everyone who participated and contributed to the fundraising efforts for Make-A-Wish, believing that his father was looking down on them with a beaming smile.
For those who missed the event but still wish to contribute, donations can be made at idaho.wish.org. Make-A-Wish Idaho continues to make a difference in the lives of children facing critical illnesses, and every donation helps bring joy and hope to these young individuals.
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