The women of the Union College volleyball team, and about 150 other brave souls, dove headfirst into a pool of water outside Union’s Reamer Campus Center on Saturday afternoon in the school’s third Dutchmen Dip to support students fighting cancer.
Sophomore Allison VanDoren, a member of the volleyball team, said the team took the plunge primarily in honor of the mother of their former coach, Melissa DeRan, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
“We wanted to do it for her,” VanDoren said, wrapped tightly in a towel after her dip. “And also, there’s people on campus who are so strongly affected by [cancer] that we wanted to do it to show our support for them.”
The dip has been held the past three years by Union’s chapter of Colleges Against Cancer to help students or members of the college community pay for cancer treatment. In the past, it has raised about $10,000 each year, and organizers said they collected close to $15,000 this year.
The 2015 event benefited students Kaitlyn Suarez, Justin Lloyd — who transferred to Boston College to be closer to home as he undergoes treatment — and Kristen Shinebarger, according to organizers.
In the month leading up to the dip, sports teams and other campus organizations formed fundraising teams to contribute to the overall goal.
Freshman Rachel McNeil, a member of the tennis team, took two runs at the frigid water Saturday afternoon.
“I feel fantastic. Exhilarated. A wee bit cold,” she said afterward. “I’m glad that Union is supporting such a great cause and such great people.”
The event was founded two years ago by Suarez, one of the students benefiting from it this year.
“We call them the heroes,” said junior Ben Schroeder, Suarez’s boyfriend. “My girlfriend is one of the heroes here. She actually relapsed this past fall, for the fourth time, so she’s been going through some treatment.”
Schroeder, a member of Colleges Against Cancer, said the Dutchmen Dip is the club’s biggest event of the year.
“Fifteen thousand dollars is huge,” he said. “A lot of people just didn’t really think that we’d get that, but it’s good to see everyone come out, the community, family, friends, everyone donating to this cause. It’s just great. Five thousand dollars to each family goes a huge way.”
When Suarez started this event, Schroeder said, she never thought she would be a recipient.
“She never thought it would come back to her,” he said.
Suarez couldn’t make it Saturday, but Schroeder was taking plenty of photos for her, not to mention a freezing bath or two.
“She’d love to see this,” he said.