‘It’s cold but exhilarating’: Deep River salon owner plans Polar Plunge to help neighbors in need

Connecticut Families

DEEP RIVER – “Last year, I was just thinking about ways I could help,” said Leah Kisselbrack, owner of a hair salon in Deep River, making it her mission to help hungry families in the heart of the pandemic.

“I thought, I can raise money because they don’t necessarily need more cans of beans or corn from the back of the pantry, they need money to get what they need,” the owner of Leah’s Bella Vita said.

So, Kisselbrack started planning a Polar Plunge in Cedar Lake to raise funds for local organizations.

“I put it out there on Facebook so I could hold myself accountable and see if anyone wanted to do it with me,” she said. “People were coming into the shop, handing me money, handing me checks.”

While the idea took off fast, so did COVID numbers. Kisselbrack’s November plunge became a solo event… one that was unique and predictably chilly!

“It was windy and cold and there were white caps on Cedar Lake, and I was like, ‘Come on,'” she laughed. “It was really cold but exhilarating, to say the least, and I had a blast.”

With assistance from a local rotary and bank, she raised $13,000, contributing to efforts in 10 surrounding towns including the East Haddam Food Bank and Killingworth’s Helping Hands. It was all a lesson for Kisselbrack’s two young daughters.

“When I explain it to the girls, I explain that not all kids have this much food in their cabinets and some kids are really hungry,” Kisselbrack said.

The busy stylist is planning her plunge again and is confident that, this year, it can be an in-person event with other willing swimmers. It’s a fun, daring activity that helps such an important cause.

“I’m definitely looking forward to it. We’ll have music, hot chocolate,” she said. “I can’t wait to do it again, to be honest.”

The event is happening Sunday, Nov. 14. Kisselbrack hopes to raise even more money this time and extend her reach to more towns in Middlesex County.

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