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Nyackers Jump into Frigid Water for Charity

Sunday's Penguin Plunge raised money for sick youngsters

Over 400 people turned out for , and 225 jumped into the 39-degree Hudson River waters.

The event raised money for Alex Fernandez of Valley Cottage Elementary School and Francesco Galvano of Pearl River Middle School. Fernandez is battling a brain tumor, and Galvano leukemia.

The turnout was varied, with friends, teachers, local athletes and others peeling off layers to wade into the cold water. But entertainment—be it live music, DJs or an appearance by a Guiness Book record holder—was out in full force, too.

"It was a frosty festival of great music—Blarney Stew played Irish tunes and crowd favorites and Sammy Quinn from West Nyack not only sang the Star Spangled Banner but dedicated a song, "There's a Hero," to this year's recipients, Francesco Galvano and Alex Fernandez," said Barbara Noyes, who helps organize each year's plunge.

"She also sang 'Songbird' in honor of Sean DePatto, a past recipient who recently passed away," she added.

Also at Memorial Park were DJ Jimmy Schutz and Fran Capo, the Guinness Book of World Record Holder as the world's fastest talking woman (and the holder of five other records). Capo discussed how she became enamored with breaking records—and then recited "The Three Little Pigs" at an astonishing pace.

Capo and other were joined by Sassy the Clown, the Rockland Boulder's bird mascot and a life-size penguin mascot, too.

Noyes noted several of the people present have been giving to the charity for years.

"There were great stories in the crowd as to how and why people were doing the plunge," she said. "We have the invincible Dr. Fisher of Orangeburg who has a following that each year sponsors his river plunge. [And] there is Alana Vezza of Nanuet who has donated all her birthday gifts to the Penguin Plunge for the past three years and this year joined her mom in finding out how much fun it can be."

"The Shanley twins, the Jac (Jacqueline) and Mac (Mackenzie) attack each year set fundraising goals for themselves," Noyes continued. "This year, their goal was $1,200—and they raised $1,650."

Ashley Gankiewicz, a former Penguin Plunge recipient and a chemotherapy buddy of Sean DePatto, had planned to do the plunge one day with her good friend, Noyes added. The plucky 10-year-old committed to taking the plunge in honor of Sean, along with Sean's sister and friends.

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