Thousands attend Make-A-Wish Fundraiser in Long Beach

In the middle of winter, thousands of people gathered in their bathing suits and sweatshirts for the “Long Beach Polar Bears Super Bowl Splash,” the 15th annual fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Participants who dove into the icy water before the big game raised over $500,000 for the charity.

 “It all started with two knuckleheads,” said Pete Meyers, one of the founders of the event who jumped in Long Beach’s waters back in 1998 along with Kevin McCarthy. Their impulsive act generated buzz throughout the city and within two years, the Super Bowl Splash became a more organized event when Mike and Patti Bradley approached the group to turn the event into a fundraiser for Make-A-Wish in honor of their son, Paulie, who died at the age of four in 1997 of a neuroblastoma. The Splash, now a celebrated community tradition has raised over $4-million dollars for the foundation.

“It’s the coldest water I have ever been in my life,” said Rafael Blanco, who came from Miami Beach, Florida, but says he would splash all over again because “It’s a great cause.”

“The Long Beach community is wonderful. They rally behind all of the causes, all the families that are in need, they always get taken care of, said Mike Bradley.