The Lakeview Polar Bear Club (LPBC) was born in late 2001 when Brian Marchal decided that he wanted to join a polar bear club and jump in Lake Michigan. Being new to Chicago he thought it might be a good way to meet a few people and have a good time. Unfortunately, way back in 2001 most polar bear clubs didn't have websites and poor Brian couldn't find a club to join. So he decided to convince a big group of his friends to go to the Lake on New Year's Day in 2002 and jump in the lake. Turns out that Brian wasn't very persuasive. Therefore, on January 1st, 2002 the humble beginnings of the LPBC were born when a group of 3 people jumped into Lake Michigan.
A few weeks after the initial plunge Brian heard that one of his cousins needed a lung transplant. The family did not have much money, but the Marchal family is pretty darn big. The idea came to life of a polar plunge event to raise money for his cousin. If they brought together all the family and friends they could raise enough money to significantly help out his cousin and their family. Plans started immediately and on January 25th, 2003, the LPBC hosted their first charity fundraiser.
Of course, if we had family dealing with a difficult financial situation, then everyone must know someone who is struggling to make ends meet. Whether it is related to the loss of a job, an extreme medical condition, an accident, homelessness, or whatever the situation, everyone has someone in their life in need of help. For the 2004 plunge it was decided to open the event up to all of our past donors and polar bears and let them nominate a family for the LPBC to provide support. This was the year that the Lakeview Polar Bear Club truly started to take shape.
A few years later, we realized that our vision for helping others extended beyond the Lakeview neighborhood, to the entire city of Chicago in itself. This led to our renaming and rebranding as the Chicago Polar Bear Club, the name we are fondly know of today.
We at the CPBC are so grateful for everyone's help, support, and donations. Over the years our non-profit has supported twenty (20!) great families. From the Martin's (2004) to the Hambrect & Drew families (2018), we have shown that a small group of people can make a difference. Every penny that has been donated has been passed on to the families that truly need it.
The Chicago Polar Bear Club is something that you can believe in and something that you can be proud to be a part of. I know that we appreciate the time, money, effort, and courage from everyone who has taken part in our event. We just wanted to say one more time to everyone: