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Riverhead fifth graders are top fundraisers at polar plunge

Days after they dove into the cold water at Splish Splash’s Kahuna Bay Wave Pool, the seven friends from Pulaski Street Elementary School were still excited, saying they felt this year’s Polar Plunge was better than the last.

The weather was better — a warm 68 degrees compared to the previous year’s 42 degree hailstorm — they had matching swim trunks to symbolize their team, the Frozen Waves, and they were the top fundraising team.

The Frozen Waves, made up of fifth-graders Troy Chichodky, 10; Mikey Gabriel, 10; Liam Lennon, 10; Trey Dietz, 11; Bryce Mackie, 11; Johnny LaCorte, 10; and Brenden Wallace, 11, raised over $6,000 for the event, which benefits the Special Olympics.

The boys said it felt good to raise so much money, which covered the cost of sending about 15 people to the competition.

“If we weren’t there, some people wouldn’t get to go,” Liam said.

Mikey was the team’s lead fundraiser, garnering just under $2,000 in donations. He said his mom sent emails to friends and family asking them to support the cause. He also walked around his neighborhood knocking on doors asking for donations.

The boys, who’ve been close friends since they were little, said they were surprised by how much the were able to raise. They had raised about $4,000 by the April 14 event and raised an additional $2,000 after.

In addition to the plungers, a few Special Olympics competitors visited the water park for the Polar Plunge; one sang the National Anthem.

The boys lined up for the polar plunge. (Courtesy photo)

The Frozen Waves also got to speak to one of the competitors, who commended the friends on their fundraising achievement.

“He was one of the people we raised the money for,” Johnny said. “It got us excited.”

As a reward for raising the most money, their team name was placed on the back of the sweatshirts given to everyone who raised more than $100.

They said they chose the name because they all play sports together and wanted to represent Riverhead’s mascot, the Blue Waves. Because the fundraising event was a polar plunge, they changed blue to frozen to come up with the moniker.

The friends said they plan on participating in Splish Splash’s fundraiser next year, and hope to raise even more money than they have this year.

“I liked the feeling that we helped people compete in the Special Olympics,” Bryce said. “I’m really proud of that.”

Photo caption: Pulaski Street Elementary School fifth-graders (from left) Troy Chichodky, Mikey Gabriel, Trey Dietz, Brenden Wallace, Liam Lennon, Johnny LaCorte and Bryce Mackie were the top fundraising team at Splish Splash’s second annual Polar Plunge on April 14. (Credit: Nicole Smith)

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