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plunging for a purpose

Rick LaBreche

Rick LaBreche

Profession: Retired Woonsocket Firefighter

Hometown: Hope, RI (for past 2 years); Resided in Woonsocket for 55 years

Super Plunger Since: 2015

What initially prompted you to get involved in the Super Plunge for Special Olympics Rhode Island?
I got involved with the Super Plunge back in 2015. I was invited to join the team by Chief Elwood Johnson and Cranston Police Officer Eric Leclerc who at the time were co-directors of Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Rhode Island (LETR SORI). They wanted to get fire departments more involved with LETR SORI and I gladly accepted the invitation to join.

Describe at a high level the Super Plunge experience.
It really is hard to put the Super Plunge experience into words. I can tell you that I was nervous as heck joining the team. I had never done a plunge before March of 2015. Having said that, it has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Our Super Plunge Team is family. We look out for each other; we support each other not only at the beach for 24 hours but in our day-to-day life. I have made friends through the Super Plunge who I now consider family. Any challenges that come up during the event, we get through them together. The first plunge and the last plunge are always the most exciting. But I can tell you that once the sun goes down and nighttime arrives, those plunges are the toughest. Then comes sunrise. It’s the greatest feeling. A new burst of energy and renewed excitement as the final countdown of plunges begins.

Given that you’re plunging into icy waters every hour for 24 hours straight, are you able to eat or sleep at all?
I really do not sleep for 24 hours. I may doze off for 10-15 minutes every now and then. Who wants to sleep when we have some great movies like Jaws, Caddyshack, and Stripes playing in the warming sheds!

How do you personally prepare for the Super Plunge?
Prepare? More like praying for no rain, no extreme temperature, and no wind! I just pack my bag with many bathing suits, towels, and pool shoes.

During the Super Plunge, are there any steps you take or rituals you follow before and/or after each of the 24-hour plunges?
After each plunge, it’s dry off, change, bring my pool shoes to the heaters and repeat. Then I will spend time with family and friends who have taken the time to come down to the beach to support not only me but the entire team.

Describe how you feel physically and emotionally after the final 24th plunge?
I personally feel great accomplishment and pride. Not for myself but for our entire team. No one is in this for themselves. The Super Plunge is one of the most grueling and painstaking things to accomplish. It hurts both mentally and physically.

Do you have a favorite memory from any of the Super Plunges you’ve participated in?
My favorite memory is the same just about every year. The 24th plunge with the Arctic Athletes!!! This is a group of Special Olympics athletes. They are the reasons we all do what we do. This year is going to be a little more special for me as my daughter Sarah has joined the Arctic Athletes team. 

What message would you like to share with members of the public about your commitment to the Super Plunge and the athletes of Special Olympics Rhode Island, and about how members of the public can support this initiative?
My message to the public: if you have never been to a SORI event, GO to one!!! For starters, come down to the Super Plunge event sometime between 1 p.m. on March 23 and noon on March 24 to see the dedication our team has for the athletes of SORI and make a donation. My personal Super Plunge donation page is at the bottom of this page, but you can also make a general donation to the Super Plunge. All funds raised directly benefit SORI athletes.

Aside from the Super Plunge, are you involved with Special Olympics Rhode Island in any other way?
Besides being a 9-year team member of the Super Plunge, I have been involved with LETR SORI for 13 years as a committee member. I’ve also volunteered at numerous events for SORI since my daughter Sarah became a Special Olympics athlete and have coached the Rhody Rangers team in some capacity since 2012. I started helping out with coaching in 2012 and, in 2016, became the head coach.

Anything else you’d like to add about the Super Plunge or Special Olympics Rhode Island?
For the past 8 years, after the completion of the Super Plunge event, I make it a point to hug and shake the hand of each of my teammates and say, “Thank you.” Why? Simple answer. I am not just a member of the Super Plunge Team, I am also a proud parent of a SORI athlete. I truly appreciate everything my fellow Super Plungers have just done, and I know they will continue to do for my daughter. Because of their hard work and dedication my daughter gets to compete in year-round sporting events and leadership opportunities.



The Plunging for a Purpose Series

The “Plunging for a Purpose” series celebrates the indomitable spirit of the Torch Run Super Plunge participants. These remarkable individuals are gearing up for an extraordinary challenge: plunging into icy waters every hour for a relentless 24-hour stretch, starting at 1 p.m. on March 23 and concluding at noon on March 24, all at Salty Brine State Beach. Their goal? To raise vital funds and awareness for the athletes of Special Olympics Rhode Island. Through their dedication and selflessness, they inspire us all. Join us in supporting their cause by considering a donation to their remarkable endeavor.