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GECKO plungers pledge enough for a full scholarship to Alaska

By Kirsten Le Roux
Special to The PREVIEW

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina The seven “Team GECKO Plungers” gather before Sunday’s Penguin Plunge. Pictured with 2014 GECKO scholarship applicant Angette Pastuszek, left to right, Kat Green, Connie O’Donnell, Candace Wolf, Angette Pastuszek, Jacob Miskimens, Maddy Stewart, Mely and Michael Whiting.

Photo courtesy Stewart Bellina
The seven “Team GECKO Plungers” gather before Sunday’s Penguin Plunge. Pictured with 2014 GECKO scholarship applicant Angette Pastuszek, left to right, Kat Green, Connie O’Donnell, Candace Wolf, Angette Pastuszek, Jacob Miskimens, Maddy Stewart, Mely and Michael Whiting.

GECKO (Giving Every Child Knowledge of the Outdoors) had an impressive number of brave plungers in Sunday’s Penguin Plunge with a target to raise enough money for one full scholarship to Alaska this summer. Together, the team of seven raised over $3,400, with pledges still being confirmed Sunday afternoon.

All the GECKO plungers added their unique stamp to their plunge to entertain the enormous crowd that gathered along the downtown river walk to watch.

Michael and Mely Whiting continued the Valentine’s theme for the weekend with a “Couple’s Plunge,” and then added further theatrics by dressing up as Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf, ending with Michael being dunked head first into the icy waters by GECKO team members.

The three fillies Maddy Stewart, Kat Green and Candace Wolf galloped into the water holding hands.

Pagosa Springs High School teacher Connie O’Donnell was hopefully dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and lei, pretending the frigid waters of the San Juan were actually the tropics, as she floated gracefully over Davey’s Wave.

Last, but not least, was ex-strongman Jacob Miskimens, who launched his impressive bulk in a swan dive over Davey’s Wave. On watching the plungers, GECKO race director Mike Le Roux said, “I think they are all very cool. Literally, very, very cool.”

GECKO is in the final phase of 2014 application selection and the chosen recipient of the “Alaska Penguin Plunge” scholarship will be announced in the next two weeks.  Thank you to all the plungers and fundraisers who helped us to get one more future steward of our world off the couch, unplugged and outside.

This story was posted on February 20, 2014.