Cumberland – Now in its seventeenth year, the Hooley Plunge is the largest single-day fundraising event in Allegany County. While the Hooley Plunge is normally a March event, due to COVID 19 restrictions, the Plunge is scheduled this year for Saturday, October 23.

Annually, hundreds of brave souls run into the frigid waters of Lake Habeeb at Rocky Gap State Park to raise money for the Special Olympics of Allegany County and other local programs benefitting the developmentally disabled. Since the Hooley Plunge inception, over 1.4 million dollars has been raised. The Hooley Plunge is coordinated by the Alhambra Wamba Caravan #89 and co-chaired this year by Alhambra member Rob Adams and Stephen Gray.

Initially, the Hooley Plunge was the inspiration of Dr. Sean McCagh as a fundraiser for the YMCA ice rink. When the ice rink closed, McCagh followed his own advice, “Make it personal.” A beloved uncle of a developmentally disabled nephew, he understood how important these programs are for individuals and their families. “Sadly, Sean passed away this year from COVID, and he has left a big hole for us to fill. He was an inspiration to all of us, and he was beloved in his community. This year, we are all Sean Strong,” added Gray.

“The Hooley Plunge brings a whole new meaning to that old saying – Go jump in a lake. It’s inspiring to see so many people of all ages come out to the Plunge. It’s a true community event. Not only do the hundreds of Plungers come out, but their friends, business associates, and family members come out and cheer them on. We see kids from all the schools, senior citizens, entire school and sports teams, organizations, and businesses coming together, having a great time, and doing something special for those in our local community that are developmentally disabled. It makes me proud to be part of this community,” Adams stated.

“Money raised at the Hooley Plunge goes directly to support local programs, helping people that live right here in our community, and that’s important,” commented Gray. The Hooley Plunge fully funds the Special Olympics of Allegany County. The other programs benefitting from the annual fundraiser 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, as well as the Career Center, the Board of Education’s Transition program with Allegany College of Maryland. Other recipients include Bishop Walsh School and Calvary Christian School, Boy Scout Troop #89, Friends Aware Social Committee, Service Coordination, Inc., Ray of Hope, Frostburg State University through an annual scholarship for a local student.

“We’ve decided to have some fun with this year’s Plunge,” commented Gray. “Since the Plunge is so close to Halloween, we’re calling it the Ghouley Hooley Plunge. And we’re encouraging our plungers and spectators to come out dressed in their best Halloween wear.”

On-site registration for the Hooley Plunge will begin at 10 am on Saturday, October 23, and the Plunge will occur at 1 pm. Plungers and spectators are encouraged to arrive early, so there is no traffic backup. For more information or to register for the Plunge, visit www.hoolyplunge.com or Hooley Plunge on Facebook or call 301-697-6676.