With the 2021 Goodyear Lake Polar Bear Jump canceled, two Oneonta residents have decided to raise money for families in need in a different way.
Dan Buttermann and Danny Lapin did the Polar Bear Jump together in 2019 and have been planning to do it again the past two years, only to see it canceled because of circumstances beyond their or the organizers’ control — a car accident last year and the coronavirus pandemic this year.
However, in lieu of jumping this year, Buttermann and Lapin decided to do their own fundraising and combine it with another popular fundraising event of years past, the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Each man is trying to raise $1,500 for Opportunities for Otsego, an Oneonta-based social services organization. Whichever man raises less money will get a bucket of ice water dumped on him.
“Since we couldn’t take the plunge this year, we decided to take the plunge another way,” Lapin told The Daily Star on Friday, Feb. 26. “We felt like we wanted to find some other way to get money to families in need.”
“We had to make some incentive to win,” Buttermann told The Daily Star, “so the idea to not have the ice water dumped on you is a good incentive.”
Buttermann works in the claims department for New York Central Mutual and Lapin is an environmental planner for Otsego County Conservation Association.
Both men are also involved with local politics. Lapin is an Otsego County Representative from District 13, which is composed of the fifth and sixth wards of the city of Oneonta. Buttermann is a former school board member in the Oneonta City School District and has staged two unsuccessful campaigns for the state Assembly, losing a primary against Bill Magee in 2016 and a general election campaign against John Salka last year.
“As a politician, sometimes it is good to advocate for policy, but sometimes it is better to just give money to the programs you support,” Lapin said.
They said they chose OFO because it serves local families in need and helps some of the same people who would be recipients of funds from the jump. In addition, both men have personal connections with the group. Buttermann is on the OFO Board of Directors. Lapin said he is friends with OFO CEO Daniel Maskin and, as a bonus, it is a local organization that is located in his district.
“They do a lot of good things in the community,” Lapin said.
“I think the programs they offer are very important for this area,” Buttermann said.
According to its website, “Opportunities for Otsego is a community action agency that has been actively fighting the ‘war on poverty,’ based on President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ideals, since 1966 in Otsego County, New York. The agency focuses its attention on specific problems affecting the community, mobilizes resources and creates solutions to unlock opportunities for low-income individuals and disenfranchised families. Opportunities for Otsego helps alleviate poverty and fosters self-sufficiency through comprehensive and holistic client-centered services.”
As of Friday afternoon, Lapin had a small lead on Buttermann, with $810 and $720 raised, respectively.
The fundraising competition will continue through Friday, March 12. The ice water will flow later that weekend, mostly likely on Buttermann’s front lawn and also on a Facebook live stream.
Lapin said if he wins he will let Buttermann’s daughters do the honors.
Buttermann said he will respond in kind, and he thinks it might help him win the challenge.
“That’s a great incentive,” he said. “I need to think about who might really want to dump ice water on Danny.”
Go to www.ofoinc.org or visit Opportunities for Otsego’s Facebook page for more information.
Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7218.