While most of us where lounging comfortably inside on Saturday, David Coppola was jumping into the frigid surf at Seaside Heights–dressed in a penguin costume–for New Jersey Special Olympics’ Polar Bear Plunge. Coppola, who graduated Verona High School with the class of 1976, wasn’t the only Veronan in the water. Verona PBA Local 72 was there, too, supported in part by donations from DCH Montclair Acura.
Coppola has been taking the plunge for more than two decades, motivated to help special needs children like the one he babysat while growing up here. As of Sunday evening, he was well on his way toward equalling or beating the $23,000 he personally raised last year. Coppola is also the captain of the NJKofC Polar Penguins, which has a $75,000 goal this year. For his efforts, Coppola was honored by Special Olympics as the top fundraiser for 2023.
The PBA got into the plunge in partnership with DCH Montclair Acura, which is located at the intersection of Bloomfield and Pompton avenues. The auto dealership allowed its employees to wear jeans to work on Fridays and Saturdays during February, provided that they donate $40 to the PBA Polar Bear Plunge Team. DCH employees donated $820, helping the PBA to raise a total of $1,792.
But there was still the matter of the plunge itself. With the local temperature registering 33 degrees at 1 p.m., PBA members TJ Conroy, John Lecreux, Ed Carattini, Joe Clark, and Tim Banta, along with Verona resident Colin McEnerney and his father Brian, and DCH Acura General Manager Kareem Raposo joined a crowd of thousands and headed into the water.