FORT LOUDON - For the fourth consecutive year, Path Valley Outreach is holding its successful Frozen Frenzy - or as they describe it, "friends freezing for a reason."
The event is not just an amusing plunge into the cold waters of the lake at Cowan's Gap State Park. It is also a way to support the community efforts of Path Valley Outreach to raise funds for scholarships for college-bound students.
"The first year we awarded $1,000 scholarships. And since then, we have raised some $6,000 each year from the Frenzy and decided to extend this a little more," said Annette Thompson, treasurer of Path Valley Outreach.
"Instead of just providing funding for the first year of college, as most scholarships do, we give an additional $500 for each succeeding year for three years," she said.
The students selected can follow any course of studies they wish, while affirming their continued education with an annual notification to PVO that they are enrolled in a college or university.
The Frenzy came about as the PVO wanted to do something different during a period when not much was going on. "We thought it would be a good time to try another event," said Thompson.
The turnout was so good that first year that they did not have enough parking for everyone. And last year alone, 70 individuals took the challenging plunge.
More reasons for freezing
There are other incentives to participate - or just watch - the Frenzy, even for those who are not thrilled with the idea of heading into cold water in a bathing suit in mid-January.
Everyone who attends, participants and spectators alike, will be given a ticket to win a random prize. "That also gives a head count," said Thompson.
There is a wonderful grand prize: a destination vacation of the winner's choice.
In addition, those who come in costume are also entered in a separate contest, with prizes for the best costumes as voted on by the spectators. Participants also receive a long-sleeved T-shirt.
Food, of course, will be available, including sandwiches, a selection of drinks, soups and other warm food.
Friends on a mission
The Path Valley Outreach organization started in 2007 with a group of lifelong friends who decided to do something for the community.
That year they held their first Christmas Day meal program. Now each year the group prepares and delivers hot meals to families in need, a major effort which involves the distribution of 400 meals.
In 2013, they began a school lunch program for students in the Fannett-Metal School District to offset the cost of their meals. Parents enroll their children in the program to receive monetary assistance to pay for their food.
And these are not PVO's only activities to support their community. They handle food preparation and donate time for fundraisers for various causes, including youth athletics, the local fire company and the Upper Path Valley Presbyterian Church. In 2015 they distributed Christmas gifts, giving each elementary student a book; helped the local food pantry feed some 30 families; aided veterans with service dogs; and supplied elementary school children with clothes, hygiene products, and playground items.
When You Go:
Forth Annual Frozen Frenzy
Path Valley Outreach
Cowans Gap State Park
6235 Aughwick Rd, Fort Loudon
2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17
(in the event of bad weather, the alternate date is Sunday, Jan. 24)
Donation: $50 per person or $200 for a team of five
For information and registration, call 717-491-7100 or visit www.pathvalleyoutreach.com.