A Westchester resident is on a mission. He does not wear a superhero cape, but perhaps he should. But he is part of a team…led by a fearless gal who created and runs an incredible event to aid in the eradication of Alzheimer’s Disease. The event is called SubZero Heroes. The man is Enzo Simone, the woman is Karen Skelton, and the organization is The Hudson Valley/Rockland/Westchester Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Between Skelton and Simone, they have elevated fundraising to an art. Both passionate about aiding families afflicted by Alzheimers…an insidious disease that not only has catastrophic effects on the person who is diagnosed, but that person’s entire family. Skelton is the Regional Administrator of the local chapter of the ALZ.org. Last year, she created an event that she named SubZero Heroes. It involves taking a dip…in a lake…in February. Yep, that’s frigid, folks. Enzo Simone was a spectator, watching about 20 jumpers take the plunge! Being a “slightly adventurous” type himself, he decided to participate this year.
Simone is a creator. While not working for a formal charitable organization, he has created two projects of his own that work toward the awareness and elimination of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. His projects are called THE ARMY OF CHANGE, and 10 MOUNTAINS 10 YEARS, the latter being the subject of a new movie/documentary narrated by Anne Hathaway, with music provided by Bruce Springsteen. We were lucky enough to grasp a few moments of Simone’s time, and shoot some questions at him regarding his participation in SubZero Heroes. Here is what he had to say:
WH: Have you experienced the SubZero Heroes before, and if so, how?
ES: “I was at the first SubZero Hero’s event last year. It looked great and it was a bit of a missed opportunity for me because I was only there as a spectator. I’ve fallen through the ice before a few times when I was younger so I know what it feels like to get into cold water like that, only when I was little it was a bit scary. The SubZero Hero’s event on the other hand looked totally fun. The people were jumping in and coming out with this look on their face like…”Yeah I just did that and it was amazing!”“
WH: What would motivate someone to jump into freezing cold water? (or what motivates you, personally?)
ES: “I’d have to say the second biggest reason for me to jump into freezing cold water might be to get away from a pack of wild wolves chasing me out of the woods. But the greatest motivation for me to jump in with the SubZero Hero’s would be that it’s an interesting event to capture public attention. Once people know you’re a part of this event to jump in a frozen lake, then they want to know why. This is the perfect excuse to say “Well have you ever heard about Alzheimer’s Disease? Let me tell you about it because that’s why we’re all taking the plunge to raise awareness.”“
WH: Do you have family or friends who are affected by Alzheimer’s? If so, what has been your experiences with this debilitating disease?
ES: “My English Grandmother Francis Chadwick passed away with Alzheimer’s. My mom is in advanced stages with it now. I can’t say if I’ll ever get it, but I can say for sure that someday I’d like to have kids and I want to see Alzheimer’s cured before they grow up to know it ever existed.
In addition to my own family experiences, I see lives play out and hear stories from thousands of people around the world who are impacted by Alzheimer’s. I follow their experiences and they follow mine. No one is ever in the same point along the journey of their experiences with Alzheimer’s at any given time, so we can learn from those ahead and teach those behind.“
WH: How much money can you anticipate raising for the cause, or what are your goals?
ES: “These are tough times for sure with the economy being so bad. For every five or so friends I have about 3 are unemployed. It’s hard to say how much I’ll be able to raise in times like this, but I always try to impress upon people that something, and anything is far far far better than nothing. So, I suppose the strength of a project like this in hard times may really be that when many give a little the collection may still be significant.“
WH: What is the best, or most joyful part of participating in a fundraising effort, even if the effort itself is uncomfortable? And why would you recommend that more people do it?
ES: “I started two projects to raise awareness & funds for research and care giver programs called “10 Mountains 10 Years” and the “Army of Change”. I think they’re both on the hard side to experience, with harsh weather, cold temperatures, high winds, great financial & personal sacrifices, language barriers, and then there are loads of logistical hurdles that most people don’t even begin to think of until they jump head first into planning projects like these. It’s parallel in a way to Karen’s SubZero Hero’s project.
For me, I get the most enjoyment out of two aspects of it all. One is the challenge. I like the fact that awareness / fund raising projects like this are big and demanding on so many levels. The only way to get them done is to personally give yourself to a project like “SubZero Hero’s”, “10 Mountains 10 Years” and the “Army of Change”.
The other thing I like about projects like this is that it’s not just one person in it on their own. There are others in there pushing and trying to succeed just like you. We all see and experience it with our own eyes, feel it with own hearts and push ourselves through the challenging parts using our minds over what ever the matter might be.
Come the end of the day we all have stories to share with each other, and stories we want to remember for the rest of our lives. When it’s all said and done part of why we want to conquer Alzheimer’s is because we spend half of our lives writing the story of our lives, and the next half erasing it all. That has to stop, and if enough of us can come together to focus on curing Alzheimer’s we can do this. We can rewrite our own ending.“
About the SubZero Heroes event, Skelton had this to say. “Last year we had 20 jumpers, 100 “lookie lous” and raised $8000. This year we already have 80 people registered (and counting!) and I’m expecting to have an audience of at least 200 and my goal is to double the amount raised last year. This year we will also have a tailgate party with subs, soup, beer, music – all at the outdoor pavillion at the lake (yes we’ll get us some big gigantic heaters to heat the space). I am aware of one of our other chapters who also do a similar event, but ours is the only chapter that holds a “Subzero Heroes Ice Jump” – that is all ours, although with the success we’ve found – I wouldn’t be surprised if other chapters start to pick up the cue and hold their own.”
Interested in this event? Want to take the plunge, or send a donation? You can visit the website for all the information at www.subzeroheroes.wordpress.com.
Want to support Enzo and sponsor him? You can do so here.
So mark your calendars for February 11, 2012, and trek up to Freedom Lake in LaGrange, NY. Are you ready to be a SubZero Hero? We bet you are!!