Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : February 2013


On January 26, MSBA President John P. Kudel led a team comprised of the Executive Committee and members of the MSBA Young Lawyers Section into the 35-degree waters of Sandy Point State Park as part of the 17th Annual Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge.

Approximately three-dozen strong, Team MSBA raised over $10,000 for the event’s beneficiary, Special Olympics Maryland, drawing an onstage shout-out from Governor Martin O’Malley – who himself braved the frigid water.

For Kudel, Special Olympics is “a great cause.”

“Raising money for Special Olympics – you can’t do better than that, really,” he noted just minutes before immersing himself in the icy Chesapeake Bay.

“I believe that Maryland attorneys are born do-gooders,” added Kudel. “The leadership of the MSBA should always be at the forefront demonstrating to the membership as well as the public that we are here to serve.”

“We’re happy to do it,” concurred Michael J. Baxter, MSBA President-Elect, who credited Kudel – a fellow first-time “Plunger” – with the “great idea.” Baxter said he hoped that the profile and involvement of the Executive Officers in this year’s Plunge had helped to generate greater participation and donations than usual.

“This demonstrates that lawyers are active in the community, giving back to the community, and this is a very visible way to do that,” said the Honorable Pamila J. Brown, MSBA Secretary.

But Special Olympics athletes aren’t the only ones who benefit from the event, according to State Delegate Jon Cardin, who logged his tenth Plunge this year.

“It’s a lot of fun to come back [each year] with the same friends from the Maryland State Bar Association,” said Cardin.

Overall, this year’s Plunge drew an unprecedented 100,000 participants, who raised $2.8 million.  In its 17-year history, the event has raised in excess of $25 million for Special Olympics Maryland.

- Patrick Tandy

“The smallest good deed is better than the grandest intention.”
- Unknown  

John P. Kudel

John P. Kudel

Last Saturday, I had the great fortune to participate in the 17th Annual Polar Bear Plunge.

At 1:00 p.m., on January 26, the MSBA’s entire Executive Board and I plunged into the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay at Sandy Point. (See picture above.) I am told the water temperature was 35 degrees, and the outside air temperature was around 27 degrees.

The event was sponsored by the Maryland State Police, and the money raised went to Special Olympics. Team MSBA, which included 35 plungers, raised over $10,000, and the entire event raised over $2 million for this worthwhile cause.

As I said in my installation speech in June, Maryland lawyers are born do-gooders. The team’s efforts that day were an example (albeit an extreme one) of how Maryland’s lawyers find ways to make positive contributions to our community, particularly to those individuals in our community who, due to disability or other limitation, are unable to succeed on their own.

It was cold, and if the truth be told, many of us “first time plungers” had reservations about jumping into the Bay in January. Once we arrived at rendezvous tailgate however, all second thoughts vanished, and we were caught up in the camaraderie and excitement of what was to come. Several thousand people took part in the event, and as we neared the moment of the plunge, the atmosphere was electric – spirits were high. I would estimate that most plungers spent approximately 10 to 15 seconds in the water. Many of us submerged, although that was certainly not a requirement. Divers in wet suits from The Natural Resources Police were stationed in the water approximately 15 yards offshore to assist and make sure no one got into trouble. The stated goal for each plunger was to make your way out to the diver and give him a high-five.

In the end, after we were dressed and warm, all were happy to have survived the plunge. But more so, we all were warmed to know we had risen to meet a personal challenge and, hopefully, had helped to make a difference in someone’s life.

Not bad for a Saturday afternoon in January at Sandy Point.

View the Plunge Pictures | Watch the Plunge Video

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : February 2013

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