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Fundraising Polar Plunge in Peekskill to Mark 10th Anniversary

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Sisters Lauren and Caitlin Brady each struggled with hair loss as teenagers at Peekskill High School but didn’t let many people know they had been diagnosed with alopecia areata—an autoimmune disease.

It wasn’t until January 2011 when they were watching the Miss America Pageant and saw Miss Delaware Kayla Martell take her wig off and reveal she had alopecia they that found the courage to go public with their condition so they could inspire others.

Three weeks later, on Feb. 12, 2011, This is Me Foundation was created as a two-minute YouTube PSA. In January 2012, the Brady sisters began giving college scholarships to local high school seniors enrolled in college who have displayed leadership skills while having faced adversity of any kind or helped others through adversity. The scholarships are presented in honor of their late close friends, Ryan Risco and Cait Chivonne Polhill, and are funded primarily through money donated at the Polar Plunge—an annual New Year’s Day spectacle where people run into the Hudson River at the Riverfront Green in Peekskill.

This year, on Sunday, Jan. 1, 2023, will be the 10th anniversary of the event.

“We can’t believe the idea Chuck McGreal (former owner of The Quiet Man Public House in Peekskill) brought to us, and having about nine plungers the first year, has become our main fundraiser and funds all our scholarships,” Lauren Brady said. “The most humbling part is the community involvement and support. We wouldn’t want to start the year off any other way.”

Since the launch of the This Is Me Foundation, 107 $500 scholarships have been presented to those who have been an inspiration to others.

Lauren Brady said 50 brave souls have already registered to charge into the frigid water, with more expected closer to the day of the plunge, which is sponsored by Concert Pharmaceuticals and the Lanza Family Foundation.

The plunge kicks off promptly at noon on Jan. 1. All plungers are required to register by Dec. 30 to participate. Anyone interested in taking the plunge or donating, should visit





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