Mat-Su Sertoma Plunge Jump for Hearing Health!

Les Helfrich (left) a participant in the Mat-Su Sertoma Plunge, and his teammate Kenny Simarmata (right), an exchange student from Indonesia, both jumped into the frigid water of Finger Lake to support and raise money for hearing health, and the Alaskan community.

March 23, 2016

Friendly faces, the fresh scent of Alaskan air and people jumping into freezing water! Say goodbye to cabin fever, it’s getting wild in Wasilla, Alaska.

Almost 100 people signed up this year to participate in the eighth annual Mat-Su Sertoma Plunge. The event took place Feb. 27 at the Palmer Elks Lodge on Finger Lake.

Participants from all over the world were dressed head to toe in colorful costumes to help raise money for hearing health and the local community.

Sondra Kaplan, the president of the Mat-Su Sertoma Club, said that although the event requires a lot of preparation and hard work, the outcome is always worth it.

“I love the people and enthusiasm,” Kaplan said “It was one of our warmest days this year too, only 40 degrees, and lots of sunshine.”

In total, the event had 35 volunteers and was sponsored by 50 local businesses and organizations. The youngest participant was 9 years old, and the oldest was 74. In order to jump at the event, each participant had to raise a minimum of $100.

This year, the event raised nearly $15,000, which will be donated to the Wasilla community in a variety of ways. Funds from this year’s plunge will help provide a coffee cart and instruments to students attending Wasilla High School, and will also help provide food to underprivileged kids at the Mat-Su Food Bank’s Food 4 Kids program.

Funds that are left over from the event will be given to Mat-Su Sertoma Club so that the Club can continue its mission of promoting hearing health.

During the event, several awards were distributed to both individuals and teams for most money raised and best costume.

Les Helfrich, a fifth time participant and jumper was honored this year for raising the most money. Helfrich said he simply made connections and reached out to his friends and family members for support. In total, Helfrich raised an impressive amount of $1,380, and his team, the Rotary Youth Exchange Superheroes raised $1,830.

According to Helfrich, one of the best parts of the event was being able to share the experience with his Rotary Club’s foreign exchange students.

Helfrich and his teammate Kenny Simarmata, a student from Indonesia, jumped together into 32 degree freezing water wearing old school batman and robin superhero costumes.

In addition to the costumes and good cause, Helfrich said one of the main reasons he continues to participate in the event stems highly from the people and positive atmosphere.

“I love the buildup of the plunge,” Helfrich said. “I revel in the day, every smiling face and positive attitude. You are with people like yourself who want to help and contribute.”

Kaplan said a plunge will be planned for next year, and the tradition will continue. All individuals looking to participate are more than welcome to take part, and Helfrich said he personally recommends the experience.

“When it’s time to jump, you jump,” Helfrich said. “Life is short. You’ve got to have a little fun! It’s something everyone should try at least once.”


  • Ann Curry-Director says:

    The Alaska State School for Deaf & Hard of Hearing would like to work with you to host and have Sertoma join our events!

    • Merritt Whitley says:

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for your comment. Your request and information has been forwarded to the Mat-Su Sertoma Club. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *