If you have been following the goings on of the Hudson Valley chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, you already know that every February brings another round of the Subzero Heroes Ice Jump at Berean Lake in Highland, NY. Why do we take the plunge into open waters in upstate New York in the middle of the winter? Because we’re deeply disturbed individuals, but also because we hate Alzheimer’s.
During my radio career, I’ve been peed on by a circus elephant (which is only slightly preferable to being stepped on by a circus elephant), I’ve been body-slammed by a professional wrestler who called himself The Masked Assassin and I’ve had my head shaved in a bar following a stupid football bet. But, this thing is REALLY NUTS! Count me in, however, because after witnessing firsthand how Alzheimer’s strips away one’s pride and sense of self and so whittles away at the brain that eventually one forgets how to eat or even in some cases has no remembrance at all of the Chicago Cubs monumental collapse of 1969. I’m for anything that can raise awareness, even if that involves a little shrinkage.
When my father-in-law, Salvatore, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 1994, he was given a clock by the technician and told to move the hands to show the Three O’clock position. Frustrated at not being able to do so, he felt the need to urinate in her flowerpot, thus effectively ending the life of four innocent African Violets who just happened to be in the wrong pot at the wrong time.
The date is Saturday, February 8th and all the information you’ll need is at http://www.subzeroheroes.org. This is the 10th year of the jump and it’s grown into a major fundraiser for The Alzheimer’s Association. Here’s an exclamation point as to the importance of all this: Every 67 seconds, someone in this country is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I’m sure that Sal who passed from the ravages of this disease 12 years ago, will be viewing this spectacle from his luxury box in the sky saying, “Get some clothes on, you morons!”
I should mention that you don’t actually have to ‘take the leap,’ to assist. You may choose to stay nice and warm on the shore and volunteer. The word we use to describe this group of people is ’Sissies.” No, wait, I’m sorry…I meant ’Sidekicks.’ Yes, that’s it. In the ice-jumping vernacular, “Heroes” are the jumpers and ’Sidekicks’ are the known as the sane ones.
To help me prepare for this jump every year, I enjoy speaking with a man named Nathan Numb, who happens to be a high ranking member of the Cook County, Illinois Polar Bear Club who run into Lake Michigan every New Year’s Day. He tells me that the second best way to prepare for this jump is too slather your entire body with Vaseline and the absolute best way to prepare is to consume mass quantities of Jack Daniel’s beforehand. Personally, I have been practicing by sleeping in the fridge on alternate nights. I also take an occasional cold shower and, of course, perform the obligatory Hanes Boxer snow shoveling, an event that I trust will soon be a part of every Winter Olympiad.
Psychologists have a term for people who do things like this and I think that term is: mentally unbalanced. Oh, sure, like they’ve never taken a butt naked leap off the pier at the stroke of midnight with champagne bottles in hand to celebrate Sigmund Freud’s birthday. Give me a break.
Remember the date: Saturday, February 8th at Berean Lake in Highland, NY. Again, get all the information on how you can help us find the 1st Alzheimer’s survivor at http://www.subzeroheroes.org. Salvatore gave me some sage advice before Alzheimer’s completely swallowed up his brain and that was, “If you’re going to do something, do it right and try not to screw it up. Now get a haircut!’ We love you, Sal. See you at the lake.