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Friends Honored For Raising More Than $100K For MS In Westport

Emcee Mike Stacy helps present Tom Patterson and Lee Carney the Mission Champion award, with the president of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lisa Gerrol, at the chapter's annual meeting on March 6.
Emcee Mike Stacy helps present Tom Patterson and Lee Carney the Mission Champion award, with the president of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Lisa Gerrol, at the chapter's annual meeting on March 6. Photo Credit: contributed

WESTPORT, Conn. -- Tom Patterson and Lee Caney were honored with the newly-created Mission Champion award at the annual meeting of the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. They two have raised $104,000 for the chapter.

Nine years ago this winter, Patterson and Caney were on a beach in Westport with friends while their children played. Someone dared Patterson to take a dive into the ice-cold water, which he refused. But after leaving, Patterson's mind started spinning: what if he could pose that chilly challenge to the community and use it to raise money for local organizations?

The next year, the Polar Plunge "Freezin' for a Reason" at Westport's Compo beach was born. In eight years of taking the plunge, co-founders Patterson and Caney led the charge in raising $750,000 for community organizations. After Caney's wife, Carolyn, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the event pivoted, to support the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

This New Year's Day, more than 100 "polar bears" dove into Long Island Sound after raising $104,000 for the Connecticut Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. At the chapter's recent meeting, leadership honored Patterson and Caney for their fundraising efforts. The Mission Champion award recognizes individuals who raise more than $100,000 for the MS movement in one year.

Funds raised through events such as the Polar Bear Plunge ensure ongoing research for a cure, as well as providing vital programs and services the chapter offers to Connecticut residents affected by MS. For more information on the Connecticut chapter, visit its website or call 860-913-2550.

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