Local Government and Politics, News

Peabody honchos take the plunge for kids with cancer

From left, Peabody Police Sgt. James Harkins, Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt, and Chief Tom Griffin take a polar plunge at Short Beach in Nahant to raise money for Cops For Kids With Cancer. (Spenser R. Hasak)

PEABODY — It seemed like a good idea at the time, Peabody Mayor Edward A. Bettencourt Jr. said just before plunging into the icy waters off Short Beach.

Bettencourt, Peabody Police Chief Thomas Griffin, and Sgt. Thomas Harkins took the polar plunge Thursday afternoon as part of a fundraising effort for Cops for Kids with Cancer. Harkins, along with fellow Peabody officers Justin Cecil, Taryn Brotherton, Jonathan Blodgett, and Michael Bettencourt are running in this year’s Boston Marathon with a goal of raising $50,000 as a team for the non-profit.

Thursday’s polar plunge was the result of Harkins’ efforts to kickstart fundraising efforts.

“I wanted to do something to get fundraising going, and I came up with this idiotic idea,” said Harkins. “I said that if I raised $1,000, I would jump into the water.”

Harkins raised the $1,000 within a few days, and also got the backing from his chief. Griffin said he would join in the polar plunge if he raised $1,000, with Bettencourt then throwing in his support with another $1,000 and a promise to make the icy dip.

It was the first plunge for Harkins and Bettencourt, but Griffin, who has  taken a winter dip a time or two before for charity, had some advice for the newcomers.

“Get in and get out, have something on your feet, and have the towel ready,” said the chief. “Running back is the worst part; you’re wet and it’s freezing.”

The mayor showed up for the plunge robed and ready, looking like he was about to sprint up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

“It’s a great cause,” said Bettencourt. “I’ve been getting ready for it. I’ve been trying to take cold showers, but it hasn’t been working out. It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The ultimate goal of the plunge was to raise money for Harkins and the other officers Cops for Kids with Cancer marathon run.

“Having three kids myself, this is something that hits home for me,” said Harkins.

The non-profit organization, which started in 2002, donates $5,000 each to families of children with cancer to help alleviate the stress that comes with the burden of paying medical bills.

The next big fundraiser for the police marathon team is the Best Chicken Wings of the North Shore contest at the Holy Ghost Society on Howley Street on Friday, March 16.

Anyone with questions about the fundraisers can contact officer Justin Cecil at (978) 836-1653 or jcecil@peabodypolice.org.

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