By Sarah Haase - [email protected]

Get cold and make a difference during annual Splashin’ for Compassion

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Jason and Gene McDonough smile after one of the annual polar plunges.
Shannon’s mother and sisters, Bettyann, Barb and Sharon, take the plunge that now supports local young people with their fight against cancer.
Jumpers wear costumes as part of the annual Splashin’ for Compassion held at Montage Mountain.
Ready. Set. Go! Brave plungers prepare to take a dip in freezing cold water during the annual Splashin’ for Compassion.
Jonathan Graziatis, a cousin of Shannon McDonough, readies to take the plunge at Montage Mountain.

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    SCRANTON — Some may call them crazy but, the group of girls who continue to keep the memory of their best friend alive through an annual polar plunge, say they’re doing just what Shannon McDonough would want.

    Shannon was a daughter, niece, cousin and best friend to many. She was diagnosed with colon cancer and in 2009, at the age of 23, she lost her battle with the disease. Her friends, including Stephanie Schofield, have organized fundraisers in Shannon’s memory that help other local young people with their fights against cancer.

    “We called ourselves the 12-pack. Every St. Patrick’s Day we would wear these shirts that we had made up and people always loved them and asked where they could get some,” Schofield said. “In 2011 we decided to try selling the T-shirts and give the money to someone battling cancer. We raised about $400 and worked with a local oncologist to find someone to give the money to.”

    Since 2011, the T-shirt-selling fundraiser has changed.

    “Shannon’s uncle, Uncle Gene, suggested we do a polar plunge. He said that a lot of those events have a big following,” Schofield said.

    The inaugural Splashin’ for Compassion was held in 2014 with 80 people braving the frigid temperatures to take the plunge. That first event also brought in around $10,000, Schofield said, and it’s been growing ever since. The fourth annual plunge takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28 at Montage Mountain.

    Uncle Gene McDonough was no stranger to polar plunges when he made the suggestion.

    “I just thought, ‘Why don’t we have something like this in Scranton?’” he asked. “It really goes beyond being a fundraiser. It’s a spiritual thing for me and for a lot of people. It’s something Shannon would have loved. She was a good girl with a wild side — it’s got her written all over it.”

    “When she was sick, she was very appreciative of everything people were doing for her. Had she survived, she’d be doing something like this for others,” McDonough said. “She was a young girl and she thought she was invincible and God bless her she was for a long while.”

    Jason and Gene McDonough smile after one of the annual polar plunges.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge1.jpegJason and Gene McDonough smile after one of the annual polar plunges.

    Shannon’s mother and sisters, Bettyann, Barb and Sharon, take the plunge that now supports local young people with their fight against cancer.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge2.jpgShannon’s mother and sisters, Bettyann, Barb and Sharon, take the plunge that now supports local young people with their fight against cancer.

    Jumpers wear costumes as part of the annual Splashin’ for Compassion held at Montage Mountain.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge3.jpgJumpers wear costumes as part of the annual Splashin’ for Compassion held at Montage Mountain.

    Ready. Set. Go! Brave plungers prepare to take a dip in freezing cold water during the annual Splashin’ for Compassion.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge4.jpgReady. Set. Go! Brave plungers prepare to take a dip in freezing cold water during the annual Splashin’ for Compassion.

    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge5.jpg

    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge6.jpg

    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge7.jpg

    Jonathan Graziatis, a cousin of Shannon McDonough, readies to take the plunge at Montage Mountain.
    http://theweekender.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_polarplunge8.jpgJonathan Graziatis, a cousin of Shannon McDonough, readies to take the plunge at Montage Mountain.
    Friends, family, public gather for annual polar plunge to support local cancer patients

    By Sarah Haase

    [email protected]

    Tips for the plunge from Uncle Gene McDonough:

    • Wear something on your feet

    • Bring a towel

    • Bring a change of clothes

    • Use your head

    • Have fun

    Tips for the plunge from Uncle Gene McDonough:

    • Wear something on your feet

    • Bring a towel

    • Bring a change of clothes

    • Use your head

    • Have fun