LINCOLNVILLE – The 15th annual Dip 4 Derek took place at high noon at Lincolnville Beach.
“I’m here for Derek,” said Pam Tibbetts of Camden.
Each year on New Year’s Day, daring souls take the plunge into Penobscot Bay to benefit Derek O’Brien, who suffered a spinal injury in a 2005 swimming accident and is now a quadriplegic.
“I do this every year. My son and daughter-in-law did it for MBNA years ago and I held my little granddaughter,” Tibbetts said. “And the next year, I said you have to get someone else to hold her because I’m jumping in. She’s now 17.”
The Spearing family from Appleton were first-time dippers.
“I thought it would be a great idea,” said Emily Spearin with her brother, Jack, beside her. “I heard about it and thought, ‘Let’s do it.’”
Her mom, Kimberly, said the rest of the family jumped on board.
“Pretty much the peer pressure,” she said. “We all buckled and we’re all here.”
The family prepared the best they could.
“We’ve got the car parked so the sun is hitting all the windows so it will help warm it up,” said Steve Spearin, who was wearing flip-flops. “We’ve got blankets and towels in the car. We might run up and down the beach afterward to warm back up.”
Peter Roper who has organized the dip since the beginning, said it’s always interesting to see who shows up.
“We’ve had as many as five go and as many as 40,” Roper said. “Today, we had 15, which is a good crowd. All donations go to the Derek O’Brien Foundation.”
Over the years, polar dippers have been as young as 5 and in their 80s.
“It’s such a wide variety. You get some people who have never done it, some people who do it every year,” O’Brien said, watching from the shore.
“Then you get some people who show up at 12:01 and have to run in because they missed the 12 o’clock cutoff,” he said with a smile referencing two men who arrived late.
Tibbetts said, for her, the dip is a great way to start the new year.
“When I lay down and completely immerse, it takes my breath away,” she said. “And then when I stand up I have a new breath for the new year.”