For the last 27 years, dozens of people drive out to Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly to slide down the a 35-foot-high, 116-foot-long water slide into the frigid Guadalupe River to raise funds for a local non-profit.
For its 28th year, Mo-Ranch chose Texas Lions Camp to be the beneficiary of the 2021 Polar Bear Plunge.
Texas Lions Camp gives kids with disabilities like Type 1 Diabetes, Down Syndrome and epilepsy a chance to experience the quintessential summer experience — summer camp.
At Texas Lions Camp, traditional camp activities like horseback riding, shooting archery and rock climbing are modified so it is accessible to every camper.
For Stephen Mabry, president and CEO of Texas Lions Camp, it’s all about building self-confidence and self-worth.
“It’s speaking magic for themselves to say “I can” instead of us saying “you can.” The image of self-confidence is kind of nebulous, but it easily rolls of the tongue,” Mabry said. “So, it boils down to the basic belief of “I can do this.” That’s what we want for our kiddos.”
Texas Lions Camp is free of charge. Every summer, 1,5000 campers from across the state travel to the Texas Hill Country to participate.
“We’re so excited to see the camp worlds come together with our selection of the 28th annual Polar Bear Plunge beneficiary—Texas Lions Camp,” said Breanna Larsen, marketing and communications manager for Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly. “We appreciate and recognize the amazing work they do for campers with disabilities, and we understand the impact their work has not only on children in the Texas Hill Country but throughout the state.”
Proceeds from the 2021 Polar Bear Plunge will benefit a capital campaign designed to provide new and improved facilities, which will ensure that Texas Lions Camp will continue to be a place of growth, freedom and love for generations to come.
Included in the campaign is updating the original bunkhouses, which are still in use by campers and are 70 years old.
“It’s important for us to take action now so that kids can continue to come to camp,” Mabry said.
But being the Polar Bear Plunge recipient is worth more than receiving monetary value. It’s also a great way to educate people about what Texas Lions Camp is all about, he added.
Mabry said he often runs into people in the area who have never heard of Texas Lions Camp.
“We say we’re the area’s best kept secret, but we shouldn’t be,” Mabry said. “So this will allow people to meet Texas Lions Camp for the first time.”
Last year was a record-breaking year for Polar Bear Plunge. The 2020 recipient, Hill Country Youth Ranch, received just over $70,000.
“We’re thrilled to see what this organization can do in terms of community fundraising, support and awareness,” Larsen said. “Last year’s beneficiary knocked it out of the park, and we hope to see that kind of success continue for this year’s beneficiary as well.”
The challenge is accepted, Mabry said.
“We definitely want to keep up that streak. We will do everything we can,” Mabry said.
To date, over $370,000 has been raised for local non-profits from this event.
Previous Polar Bear Plunge beneficiaries include Partners in Ministry, Christian Women’s Job Corps, Star Ranch, Hill Country CARES, Hill Country College Fund, Christian Assistance Ministry, Kid’s Advocacy Place, Habitat for Humanity, K-Star, BCFS Health and Human Services, Kerr County United Way, The Salvation Army of Kerrville, Kerr County Young Life, Texas Hill Country —Big Brothers and Big Sisters of South Texas and West Kerr County Youth Sports.
On New Year’s Day, awards will be given to individual and team competitors who are the largest fundraisers. Additional awards will include the crowning of the Mo-Ranch Polar Bear King and Queen and event awards for the longest slider, biggest splash, slider farthest from home, oldest polar bear and best costume.
Be bold and get cold at Mo-Ranch on Jan. 1, 2021. You can join in the chilly fun all while supporting a great cause!