Pledge to Plunge event raises $13,000 for River Essence Group projects

Published 6:00 am Sunday, April 3, 2022

NILES — Local community members braved the icy waters of the dunk tank for a cause Saturday afternoon.

The River Essence Group’s Pledge To Plunge event raised more than $13,000 Saturday afternoon at Front Street Pizza Pub.

The Pledge to Plunge, a fundraiser competition that ran through the month of March, was created to raise money for REG projects. The REG is a nonprofit organization founded to enhance the economic and social vitality of the Niles community.

“I feel like we’re really gaining momentum to make our town beautiful,” said REG President Vikki Jurgonski. “The people are really buying into it as a community. I’m really loving that; we’re gonna do some really great things.” 

The fundraiser consisted of seven teams competing to raise the most money by the end of the month. Each team had a dedicated “plunger” who will be dropped in a dunk tank as part of the event’s festivities.

Dozens of guests turned out for the event to see the plungers plummet into the frigid water, with admission funds going toward the fundraiser.

REG member Cherie Schaller was pleased with the turnout.

“To see people out and about having fun and just sharing friendship and camaraderie amongst one another was fun,” she said. “Having people of all age levels from the Niles community come out and represent at this event was probably my favorite part.”

Jurgonski said her current focus is to use the funds raised to both purchase Christmas decorations for the downtown area and to beautify Riverfront Park. Other projects are in the works as well.

The fundraiser was so successful that Jurgonski and Schaller plan to make it an annual event.

“We are pushing to get things done down here,” Schaller said. “We have a great idea for this river bluff. We want to do lights down here at Christmas time and really just beautify it. We’ve got lots of great plans but of course great plans take great money. These kinds of events help that; we surpassed our goal on this event and we’re extremely proud and happy of ourselves for that.”