Polar plungers raise money for Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation in a Warren warrior’s memory

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Christen Downing
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs
Nearly 75 Air Force and local community members braved the cold and took the plunge as part of the first Matthew S. Schwartz Memorial Polar Plunge at Sloan Lake Jan. 5.

The event raised more than $5,000 for the Wounded Explosive Ordnance Disposal Warrior Foundation, which goes to help wounded EOD technicians and families of EOD professionals killed in action. The date of the event marks the one year anniversary of Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz's death while deployed to Afghanistan.

"A year ago today, Matt died in Afghanistan so we come here today to celebrate his life in a wild and crazy way," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Jetton, social media director for the event and 90th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD craftsman. "He was a goofy guy, so he would've been down for this."

Participants wore capes, tutus, spandex shorts and other wild costumes to remember Schwartz.

Braving 32 mph wind gusts, Schwartz's widow, Jennifer Schwartz, led the way becoming the first to jump in the frigid waters with her daughter, Aliza, and friend, Erin Rembert.

"I think there was a really good turnout from this crazy off-the-wall group," Schwartz said. "I feel overwhelmingly supported and loved. All of these people here today make me so grateful and thankful."

Al Cassidy, a friend of the Schwartz family, also participated.

"It broke my heart when I met them and learned their story," Cassidy said. "I'm out here today to be supportive of Jenny and her family and all of the EOD warriors."

After the participants jumped in Schwartz's memory, everyone gathered inside the Sloan Lake Community House for complimentary pizza, coffee and hot cocoa. They accepted donations and held a silent auction.

"It was really helpful to have this in memory of him on this day," Jennifer Schwartz said. "It is great to remember him in a good way- a torturous way, but a good way!"

The success of the event is encouraging to organizers who say they plan to make this plunge an annual event.

The Wounded EOD Warrior Foundation is a non-profit organization. No federal endorsement of sponsor is intended.