In mid-February more than 100 intrepid Alaskans took the plunge, jumping through a hole in the ice of Wasilla Lake into the frigid water. The annual Mat-Su Polar Plunge, organized by Sertoma, is a community fundraising event. Donations and pledges are distributed to assist Sertomas work with the hearing impaired, and each year two additional charities are selected to share the proceeds.
In 2013 one of the grateful recipients was the Alaska WildBird Rehabilitation Center based in Houston, AK. The mission of the AWBRC is to care for sick, injured and orphaned wild birds with the goal of returning them to the wild; and to educate the public about these birds and their habitats. Four plungers dressed as birds and a rescuer, Kent Briske, Tyler Strode, Anu Lawes and Tané Vincent represented AWBRC.
Distribution of the funds to the AWBRC was accompanied by a special event, the release of an adult female Bald Eagle, recently a patient at the rehabilitation center. The eagle was found near the borough landfill, on the ground and very weak and dehydrated. She had ingested garbage which prevented her from swallowing food. Following veterinary care to remove the garbage and about a month at the center to regain strength and weight, she demonstrated her ability to hunt and was ready to release.
Hoping to keep her from returning to the landfill for another easy but unhealthy meal, she was released in Willow. Her departure was witnessed by members of Sertoma and Alaska WildBird Rehabilitation Center. Eddie Ezelle, President of Sertoma presented a ceremonial check for $6650 to Jill Parson, AWBRC Treasurer and grant writer.