Posted: Jan 12, 2013 9:37 PM by Brin Merkley - MTN News
Updated: Jan 12, 2013 9:38 PM
SEELEY LAKE - Nearly 20 brave locals plunged into the icy waters of Seeley Lake on Saturday morning, all in an effort to help a Montana veteran pursue his goals.
Proceeds from the dip went to Tomy Parker, a Marine from Ronan who lost both legs to a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, to help fund his education.
The event was put on by the Phoenix Patriot Foundation, and CEO Jared Ogden joined the group in starting off the day with an especially brisk dip.
Ogen said Parker proposed the plunge about two months ago.
"And I said, 'Tomy, that's a horrible idea. There's no polar bears in Montana. So let's do a grizzly bear plunge.'"
The Phoenix Patriot Foundation's mission is to help wounded soldiers return to normal life after the war.
Parker says he plans to go to college. He says money raised at Saturday's plunge is giving him the opportunity to pursue his dreams and raise awareness of the foundation.
"It couldn't be for a better cause, this is a good non profit organization," he said. "...Just getting the awareness out there and having America's life blood, our blue collar 9-to-5 workers knowing about what Phoenix Patriot Foundation is doing for our wounded veterans, I think is just a tremendous step in the right direction for this organization."
Parker plans to get his undergraduate in social linguistics and a doctorate in law so that he can become a politician.
Ogden says Parker is an inspiration. "He's going to go back to school and that fulfills our mission which is to create opportunities for combat wounded veterans and as long as those guys and girls are contributing to society in a positive manner then we're going to do everything we can to support them."
But Parker isn't finished yet: He's already in the process of planning a second awareness campaign trading a frigid swim for a long one.
He plans to swim the full 11 miles of Flathead Lake to raise awareness.Parker plans to enroll at the University of Montana this August.
Each "grizzly plunger" paid $30 toward Parker's education fund.