By Belinda M. Paschal
PIQUA — While most of us were seeking warm refuge from Wednesday’s winter winds, Cris Valdez was freezin’ for a reason. Braving a brisk breeze and the risk of hypothermia, the Edison Community College president took a plunge into the school’s front pond as part of a fundraising stunt for Dancing with the Piqua Stars.
Along with Harold Hitchcock, the college’s facilities services lead technician, Valdez dared to dive amid cheers from a crowd of enthusiastic onlookers ringing the banks of the pond. Clad in t-shirts and shorts, the pair jumped into the subzero-temperature pond not once, but twice.
Among the audience was Piqua High School Athletic Director Chip Hare, who said, “I just had to come see this. That takes guts.”
As a contestant in the Piqua Arts Council’s Dancing with the Piqua Stars, Valdez is encouraged to raise funds and drum up votes before the competition. Donations were accepted at Edison from Feb. 24-27 in support of the presidential plunge, bringing in more than $700.
“It’s for a good cause. I was asked to be part of Dancing with the Piqua Stars because it benefits the arts and (Edison) supports that,” Valdez said prior to his plunge. “We (contestants) are responsible for contributing to the donation of funds as much as possible. And since I can’t dance, I have to do something!”
It wasn’t the first polar plunge for Valdez, who took part in similar events while living in Minnesota, which might make Ohio seem positively balmy in comparison. “The temperatures there were -20 before the wind chill factor,” he said.
After emerging from the frigid water, Hitchcock jokingly pronounced the experience, “Refreshing!” while Valdez chattered, “You can feel that cold coming all through you, but I’d recommend it to anyone.”
Valdez is one of eight well-known community members who have been paired with local ballroom dancers for Dancing with the Piqua Stars, a competition modeled after the popular TV series, “Dancing With the Stars.” The contest will be held April 5 at A Learning Place.
Other contestants in this year’s competition are Piqua Chief of Police Bruce Jamison; Chuck Black, local sales manager/Senior AE, Muzzy Broadcasting; Mary Frances Rodriguez, marketing manager for Buckeye Insurance Group; Gretchen Lorenz, M.D., of Piqua Family Practice; Jill Trevino, practice administrator, Daytree Medical Services; Teresa Anderson, principal of Springcreek Elementary School; and Mike Cox, CEO of Polysource.
Belinda M. Paschal may be reached at (937) 773-2721 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall