Southport polar plunge held in honor of Fairfield native with rare disease

The cold plunge that started 25 years ago at the Southport Harbor benefits a special charity.

Nicole Alarcon Soares and John Craven

Jan 1, 2024, 11:27 PM

Updated 143 days ago

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Southport New Year’s tradition of a polar plunge on New Year's Day honored a Fairfield native with a rare disease.
The cold plunge that started 25 years ago at the Southport Harbor benefits a special charity.
Thomas Lawlor, the organizer, began this as a fun tradition that later adopted a deeper purpose.
The polar plunge now honors Shane DiGiovanna, a young man who was diagnosed with a rare and debilitating skin disease.
DiGiovanna’s disease is Epidermolysis Bullosa, a rare genetic disorder that causes extremely fragile skin and lifelong complications.
Funds raised in the plunge go to the Doggie’s Friends charity that gives hospitalized children stuffed animals.
"I'm always so thankful year after year that you guys come out and do this idiotic thing every New Year's Day -- jumping into the ocean, getting hypothermia," DiGiovanna said.
Even from a hospital bed hundreds of miles away, Shane never loses his sense of humor.
His health is declining, but his grandmother said this event always keeps his spirit alive and well.
"Every day that we keep Shane is a good day. And last year, the new year, whatever, it doesn't matter. It's every day that counts," said Kathleen DiGiovanna.
To donate to Doggie’s Friends, people can click here


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