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Higher Education in Maryland

January 2009 Press Release



For immediate release: January 29, 2009                                          Media Contact: Christopher Falkenhagen
                                                                                                                     Communications: (410) 260-4511



MHEC Employee Participates in Record-Breaking Polar Bear Plunge

ANNAPOLIS, MD (January 29, 2009) – Maryland Higher Education Commission employee Anthony Reiner sent out an e-mail to his colleagues last week asking them if they would sponsor him in the Maryland State Police’s Annual Polar Bear Plunge – an event that benefits Special Olympics.

Reiner’s colleagues obliged with contributions, although none were willing to brave the cold to join him. Despite air and water temperatures in the mid-30s, Reiner joined with Governor O’Malley and thousands of other “plungers” Saturday. The event (nicknamed) Plungapalooza ’09 raised more than $2.5 million with more expected to come in by the end of the week, according to State Police spokesman Greg Shipley, who also took the plunge.

“I’m proud of Anthony although I worry about his sanity,” Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons, Sr., joked. “In all seriousness, this was a brave and charitable endeavor on Anthony’s part. I was pleased to be one of his sponsors and very happy that other MHEC employees contributed to his effort.”

MHEC staff contributed more than $300 to Reiner’s plunge.

This is the second year Reiner has participated in the event and he was no worse for wear when he showed up to work on Monday, despite taking three plunges.

Taking the plunge “is a real test of will to make yourself do it,” Reiner said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s for a good cause. In these economic times, we need to do as much as we can for a charity.”

Reiner said he has participated in the last two MSP Polar Bear plunges and another plunge for to benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “The cold water doesn’t bother me,” Reiner said.

This year’s event featured a record number of plungers – more than 11,000, according to Shipley.

As for Reiner’s future plunging plans? He intends to do it again next year and has already started to recruit MHEC employees to join him.

The Maryland Higher Education Commission is a 12-member coordinating board responsible for establishing statewide policies for Maryland public and independent colleges and universities and private career schools. It serves as an advocate for more than 326,000 college students in Maryland, for the State and its needs, and for business and industry in Maryland.



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