As a retired firefighter, my dad is always interested in supporting causes which involve police officers, firefighters, and first responders. Back in Rhode Island, he is a drummer in his local pipe and drum band made up of retired firefighters and police officers.



The group is named “Guns and Hoses” and spends the better part of March playing “gigs” throughout New England, sometimes opening for local New England favorites like the Dropkick Murphys or marching in parades.



 For the past few years, my dad and kids have eagerly awaited and enthusiastically participated in the Destin Polar Bear Plunge.



To read more about the Polar Bear Plunge in Destin, CLICK HERE.



In New England, where there are a variety of polar and penguin plunges, there is an excellent chance that the beach will be covered in snow and/or slush, and that Narragansett Bay will be a chilly 39 degrees. 



While it was cold in Destin New Year’s Day, the Gulf was a balmy 60 degrees, but my kids and my dad were determined to take the plunge for the fourth year in a row.



I’ve seen first-hand how first responders rally for each other and their families in times of need, so I look forward to the Plunge every year to help support the Destin Fire And Rescue Foundation and celebrate innovation and opportunity,  as opposed to responding to a tragedy or disaster.



By support, of course, I mean drinking a Bloody Mary and cheering on the participants while I remain high and dry. The Fire and Rescue Foundation is a non-profit organization, which not only supports the families and children of firefighters, but is also dedicated to promoting “education, improvement, and research activities in the field of fire safety and prevention, emergency medical care, and beach safety.”



The Fire and Rescue Foundation aims to place automated external defibrillators, (AEDs) throughout Destin and train the community so this important life-saving technology can be used properly. The group also provides training programs for CPR, water safety, and life-saving skills to kids between and the ages of  8 and 16.



The Destin Junior Lifeguards program was created in 2007 in response to the community’s desire to create and maintain a youth safety program. This intensive, summer-long training program lasts eight weeks, and the kids get first-hand experience and training with CPR, First Aid, rescue techniques, and beach safety.



The Junior Lifeguards program takes the participants on a number of local field trips, including a scuba trip, and participates in local, regional, and national competitions. The program is very competitive and kids return year after year to further their training and reconnect with their friends and instructors.



It’s a good cause to immerse yourself into, which bring us back to the polar plunge.



Last year, warmer weather brought more than 100 plungers.  This year, despite cold, windy weather, another 100 or so brave souls celebrated the New Year and The Fire and Rescue Foundation at James Lee Park behind the Crab Trap and my kids, my dad, my brother-in-law, niece, and nephew were all part of it.



Here’s to a safe 2014.



Follow Susan Moody on Twitter @susanjmoody and visit her blog, The Emerald Coast Insider, at www.emeraldcoasttreasurebox.com.