Earlier this month, a local dog made history when he jumped into the frigid waters at the Carl E. Moses Boat Harbor alongside a group of Unalaska Matson employees. Cubby — a nearly two-year-old chocolate lab and blue heeler mix — and the other shipping company employees were participating in a polar plunge fundraising event to raise money for Special Olympics athletes in Alaska. And according to Matson's Alaska Community Affairs Manager Dylan Faber, Cubby was the first dog to participate in the state's Special Olympics Polar Plunge.
Cubby took the icy plunge with seven other Matson employees, who, if it hadn't been for the COVID-19 pandemic, wouldn't have had the opportunity to participate locally in the 12th annual event.
But, Faber said, this year, as a means to ensure the health and safety of participants, the event was held virtually, rather than at Goose Lake in Anchorage where it usually takes place.
"What the virtual event involves, basically, is every team would sign up to fundraise," Faber said. "And they get to do some sort of plunge, where they can come up with a creative idea where they raise money and then plunge themselves, whether it be with a bucket of water over their head, or jumping into Dutch Harbor, like members from our team did."
According to Faber, the goal of the event was to help Anchorage-based nonprofit Special Olympics Alaska reach their goal of $300,000. Each participant raises donations for their plunge, which is then used to support year-round training and competition in numerous sports for adults and children with intellectual disabilities.
Because the event was hosted virtually and participants were able to plunge remotely, Matson was able to raise more money this year than last, said Faber.
"This year, since we were able to get more employees participating — from Unalaska to Anchorage — along with a donation from Matson, the funding efforts probably raised about three times more than we have in the past," said Faber. "So last year was around $5,000 to $7,000. This year, we're up and over $20,000 at this stage, so being able to get more people participating for Team Matson definitely helped with our fundraising efforts."
Cubby and his team's plunge marks Matson's second year participating in the Special Olympics event, and according to Matson officials, the team looks forward to continuing the tradition.