If you’ve ever taken a dip in the water in the winter, you’re familiar with that feeling of the cold shock taking your breath away. What if you experienced that feeling every day, throughout the day? That is what some might describe having Cystic Fibrosis as. Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disorder that causes an abnormal buildup of thick mucus in the body, leading to damaged lungs and digestive systems. Annie McMahon has been dealing with complications of the disease since she was diagnosed at age three. On Saturday, February 3, locals will be taking the plunge into the chilly bay to raise money for McMahon and the New York Lung Transplant Fund.
On Saturday, all are welcome to join in for the 18th Annual Rockaway Plunge. Registration starts at 1 p.m. at the Colony Theater in Breezy Point (200 Bayside Avenue). Some will be brave enough to take the plunge and run into Jamaica Bay. But anyone can participate in the festivities after, which will feature music by DJ James Tubridy, an open bar, food and raffles. Those taking the plunge get access to the after party, plus a bag full of goodies, with a $75 donation and a $50 donation is recommended for those who just want to enjoy the festivities. All of the money raised goes toward covering the costs associated with McMahon’s lung transplant and to help others through the New York Lung Transplant Fund.
McMahon has endured an upward battle with Cystic Fibrosis throughout her life. After trooping through several years of respiratory issues, McMahon was finally given some relief when she received a double lung transplant in 2016. Complications related to the transplant resulted in a three-month hospital stay. In July 2017, McMahon’s body began to reject the new lungs and she was once again put on the transplant list. In November 2017, she was granted the gift of life once again as she received a second double lung transplant.
In year’s past, the plunge has raised funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. This year, the money will go toward Help Hope Live to cover some of the medical expenses associated with McMahon’s recent transplant, and to the New York Lung Transplant Fund, so that others who need transplants can also receive financial help. The McMahons choose to donate to Help Hope Live because it assures fiscal accountability of funds raised and tax deductibility to the full extent allowed by law for donors. Donors can be sure that funds donated will be used only to pay for or reimburse medical expenses.
The annual plunge began in 2000 as a fun dare that sparked from a conversation in a bar. “It started at the Tap and Grill and from there it has grown. The whole thing kind of started as a dare. We dared the bartender, Jim Mullen, to jump in the ocean and people were giving him money to do it, so we said let’s do it and donate the money to Cystic Fibrosis. From there, the money has gone to different charities related to Cystic Fibrosis,” Annie’s father, John McMahon told The Rockaway Times in an interview in 2016. Since that bet, the plunge has grown immensely. Each year, roughly 300 people take the plunge and past events have raised as much as $100,000.
“There are people that have been doing this for years in Rockaway. It’s great how the Rockaway community gets behind it, including people who know my daughter or someone else with Cystic Fibrosis and people who have no connection to the disease, but just want to help. It’s always an emotional day with laughter and tears, but it has helped my daughter. It’s her favorite day of the year and it motivates her, letting her connect with people, knowing that she’s not alone. It’s a great day, but also a tough day,” John McMahon said.
Annie McMahon is expected to attend Saturday’s event. She’ll also be celebrating her 21st birthday that day.
For more information about the plunge, or to make a donation, head to www.rockawayplunge.com
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