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Contact: Becky McClarran


Cumberland – Fourteen years ago, several brave souls took to the frigid waters of Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park and kicked off what has become a March tradition in Allegany County – the Hooley Plunge. Now in its fourteenth year, the Hooley Plunge has become the largest single day fundraising event in the county, raising money for the Special Olympics of Allegany County and several other local programs for the developmentally disabled. 2017 saw over 600 partipants take the Plunge and raise over $168,000. This year, the Hooley Plunge is scheduled for Saturday, March 3 at 1 pm. Members of the Alhambra Wamba Caravan #89 with Alhambra members Murray Gornall and Rob Adams as co-chairmen coordinate the Hooley Plunge.

“Go jump in a lake has taken on a totally different meaning,” commented Gornall. “It’s a good thing. Every year, we see more and more people of all ages come out to the Plunge. They either take the Plunge or come out to cheer on their friends, business associates, and family members. It’s become a community tradition and it’s great to see everyone come together for a great cause. We see senior citizens, school kids, entire school teams, organizations and businesses all coming together, having a great time, and doing something incredible for those in our community that are developmentally disabled. It makes me proud of this community.”

Organizations like the Rotary Club of Cumberland have supported the event since its inception. Corporate sponsors include Western Maryland Distributors, Western Maryland Dermatology, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Sheetz Convenience Stores, Rocky Gap Casino and Resort, Hunter Douglas, Adams Funeral Home, Orbital ATK, US Cellular, 1812 Brewery, and Progressive Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation.

The Hooley Plunge fully funds the entire annual budget for the Special Olympics of Allegany County. Other programs recipients include the Allegany County Board of Education Inclusion Sports programs and the SLE Programs at Cash Valley Elementary, Fort Hill High School, and Mountain Ridge High School, and the Career Center; the Board of Ed’s Transition program with Allegany College of Maryland; as well as, programs at Bishop Walsh School and Calvary Christian School. Funds also support Boy Scout Troop #89, Friends Aware Social Committee, a scholarship for a local student majoring in a program in special education at Frostburg State University, FSU Best Buddies program, and Service Coordination, Inc.

The Hooley Plunge weekend kicks off on Friday, March 2, 8 – 11 pm at Rocky Gap Casino and Resort’s Pre-Plunge Party featuring music by Time Flies. The Pre-Plunge Party is held in the Allegheny Room at Rocky Gap.

Following the Hooley Plunge on Saturday, 1812 Brewery is hosting a Post-Plunge Party with the Shanty Irish performing beginning at 3 pm. There is a $5 cover fee for the event, which will be donated to the Hooley Plunge.

On-site registration for the Hooley Plunge begins at 10 am on Saturday, March 3 and the Plunge is scheduled for 1 pm. Plungers and spectators are encouraged to arrive early so there is no traffic back up. For more information or to register for the Plunge, visit or Hooley Plunge on Facebook or call 301-724-2453.


Having four visiting family members, the wife was very busy, so I offered to go to the store for her to get some needed items, which included light bulbs, paper towels, trash bags, detergent, and Clorox. So off I went.

I scurried around the store, gathered up my goodies, and headed for the checkout counter, only to be blocked in the narrow aisle by a young man who appeared to be about sixteen-years-old. I wasn't in a hurry, so I patiently waited for the boy to realize that I was there. This was when he waved his hands excitedly in the air and declared in a loud voice, "Mommy, I'm over here."

It was obvious now, he was mentally challenged, and also startled as he turned and saw me standing so close to him, waiting to squeeze by. His eyes widened and surprise exploded on his face as I said, "Hey Buddy, what's your name?"

"My name is Denny and I'm shopping with my mother," he responded proudly. "Wow," I said, "that's a cool name; I wish my name was Denny, but my name is Steve."

"Steve, like Stevarino?" he asked.

"Yes," I answered. "How old are you Denny?"

"How old am I now, Mommy?" he asked his mother as she slowly came over from the next aisle.. "You're fifteen-years-old Denny; now be a good boy and let the man pass by."

I acknowledged her and continued to talk to Denny for several more minutes about summer, bicycles, and school. I watched his brown eyes dance with excitement because he was the center of someone's attention. He then abruptly turned and headed toward the toy section.

Denny's mom had a puzzled look on her face and thanked me for taking the time to talk with her son. She told me that most people wouldn't even look at him, much less talk to him. I told her that it was my pleasure and then I said something I have no idea where it came from, other than by the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I told her that there are plenty of red, yellow, and pink roses in God's Garden; however, "Blue Roses" are very rare and should be appreciated for their beauty and distinctiveness. You see, Denny is a Blue Rose and if someone doesn't stop and smell that rose with their heart and touch that rose with their kindness, then they've missed a blessing from God.

She was silent for a second, then with a tear in her eye she asked, "Who are you?"

Without thinking I said, "Oh, I'm probably just a dandelion but I sure love living in God's garden."

She reached out, squeezed my hand, and said, "God bless you!" and then I had tears in my eyes.

May I suggest that the next time you see a BLUE ROSE, don't turn your head and walk off. Take the time to smile and say Hello. Why? Because, just think how this mother or father have felt so many so many folks have rejected their child. This could be your child, grandchild, niece, or nephew. What a difference a moment can mean to that person or their family.

From an old dandelion!

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

"People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

I have a cousin that is now 31 years old that reminds me of this boy. My cousin has the most beautiful heart that I have ever seen.


There are “Blue Roses” all around us. Sometimes we forget to acknowledge our Blue Roses. We get too busy. We don’t have time to stop and talk with them. We move past them quickly to take care of our own problems. It’s a shame we don’t make more time for our Blue Roses. Every encounter I’ve ever had with a Blue Rose has left me feeling better about them, the world, and myself. There are Blue Roses all around us and their smiles will light up your heart if you take the time to stop and smell them.

I see and think about Blue Roses frequently. My good friend Adam Leisure is a Troop 89 Blue Rose. Anyone who works at the hospital knows Adam from his job in the cafeteria. Adam always has a smile for me. He’s my patient but believe me I have learned more from him than he has from me.

Cheyenne Bosley is one of my favorite Blue Roses. If you've been to our Special Olympics you’ve no doubt seen her beautiful smile. Cheyenne makes everyone happy to be around her. I’ve watched her grow up and endure multiple surgeries. I watched her score a touchdown in her wheelchair as the other team did everything they could to stop her. Crossing the goal line that day she was the happiest person in the world. Crutches, physical therapy and the pain all went away for a while. Cheyenne doesn’t need the wheelchair anymore and I promise you will see her at the Hooley Plunge this year. If her dad and I can catch her she is going in this time.

Jake Reynolds is our Special Olympics World Gold Medal Winner in Downhill Skiing. Jake always asks me how my boys are doing. He always has time to ask about my family. He remembers names and events much better than I do. Not only will Jake be at the Hooley Plunge this year, he will be leading the way into the water no matter what the temperature. Jake is a world champion Blue Rose.

Who doesn’t know my friend and RED - Blue Rose Cody Beal? If you've seen a Fort Hill Football game in the last ten years I guarantee you know Cody. No one loves Fort Hill as much as Cody. Cody is one of my favorite Blue Roses too, although you won't ever catch him wearing royal blue. Cody has one of the most remarkable records ever recorded at Greenway Avenue Stadium. Cody is the only athlete I know who scored a touchdown for both teams in the same game. In the first half he scored for the Special Olympics Flag Football Team. In the second half the CAYFL Patriots kidnapped him and put a Patriots jersey on him under cover of the huddle. On the first play they gave him the ball and he raced down the sidelines for his second score. I’m pretty sure Cody will be doing the Hooley Plunge for the 11th time this year.

My nephew Brian Head was my first Blue Rose. Before Brian I didn’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. Brian has taught me more about Blue roses than anyone - patience, acceptance, family, faith, and most important, unconditional love. Every year he makes the trip from Cleveland Georgia to cheer us on. I always tease him I’m taking him in with me. He still hasn’t set foot in the lake. Brian makes doing the Plunge very personal for me and all of HIS family. I hope everyone reading this thinks of his or her Blue Roses. I hope you will either come out to Rocky Gap State Park this Saturday, March 5 and Plunge or pledge to someone who is taking “The Plunge”.

Sean McCagh, MD
Chair 2016 Hooley Plunge

PS, If you can’t make it to Rocky Gap this Saturday March 5th you can make your donattion on our website. This year it’s even easier to make a donation. Go online to and make your pledge via PayPal.



On Saturday March 5th with your help the 12th Annual Hooley Plunge will raise over $100K and we will cumulatively go over ONE MILLION DOLLARS for the last 12 years! For the last 10 years you helped fully fund Allegany County Special Olympics. You helped Boy Scout Troop 89 for the developmentally disabled and Friends Aware. Plunging or pledging you helped pay for a walker that allowed a high school senior’s dream of walking across the graduation stage through Service Coordination. Allegany County School programs are the largest recipients of Plunge donations. Inclusion Sports and ACPS programs for the developmentally disabled took home over $41K from last year’s Plunge! ONE MILLION THANK-YOUs!

This is my last year as Chairman of the Annual Hooley Plunge. I plan to stay involved and hope you will, too. I've seen many wondrous things in the last 12 years. I've seen everyone from infants to 80 year olds brave the waters of Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap. Costumes of super heroes and leprechauns. Bikini's and fur lined speedo's. Walkers, runners, waders even wheelchairs carried by brothers and teammates. Just when I think nothing can surprise me Wonder Woman and a sea of local school colors shows up and steals the show. Waves of Allegany, Fort Hill, Mt. Ridge, Bishop Walsh, Calvary Christian and Frostburg State students running in and out of the water. Younger students in the feeder middle & elementary schools following them in. Seven to eight hundred students, teachers, teams and friends carrying the torch to support their families and friends in Special Olympics, Inclusion Sports and so many programs for the developmentally disabled.

Make this personal. It's personal for me. My nephew is a Special Olympian and he makes this personal for my family. Who do you know that makes it personal for you? A brother or sister? Someone who rides your bus or sits in your class? Maybe it's the kid who watches your football, soccer, basketball or softball games. That kid who's always there. Always supports you. That kid who wishes they had the ability to be on the playing field with you but wasn't born with your abilities. This is your chance to support them. This is your opportunity to give back to your community. Last year, between 700-800 Plungers raced into the lake at Rocky Gap. This year I hope YOU come out and break the record. Make it personal. Do it for someone you know!

Sincerely Sean McCagh, MD
2016 Chairman Hooley Plunge