By John Lynds
Two years ago, Piers Park Sailing (PPSC) Center’s Executive Director Alex DeFronzo decided to use his December birthday to do something different to raise money for the Sailing Center’s programs. To mark his 29th birthday in 2017, DeFronzo jumped into the icy Boston Harbor as part of a fundraiser he dubbed ‘Dunk the Director.’
While most East Bostonians wouldn’t dream of spending their birthday jumping into the frigid Boston Harbor on a cold winter’s day Alex DeFronzo was happy to do it in 2017, 2018 and was back at it again this year.
On Friday, December 27 DeFronzo took the plunge for the third time. DeFronzo emerged from PPSC’s trailer dressed in shorts and a life vest and after a quick speech, some thank yous of support and a countdown he jumped off the PPSC’s docks into the harbor.
DeFronzo explained that the winter is the time of year that a fundraiser helps a lot with covering payroll for its after school instructors and buying educational supplies.
“I am grateful for everyone supporting PPSC in the dead of winter,” said DeFronzo. “It helps us run our after-school marine science programs and helps us get ready for spring Sailing After School and the EBHS Varsity Team. We raised over $2,500 for the splash.”
DeFronzo said unlike the first year he jumped where he and PPSC staff had to chip a hole in the ice covered Harbor this year was a little better.
“It was really cold this year but there wasn’t any ice which made it a little more enjoyable,” said DeFronzo. “Thank you to everyone that donated and that came to join me for my birthday.”
Back when he was a kid at the Sailing Center there was an old tradition of dunking instructors in the Harbor on their birthday. While PPSC has had a lot of success with community fundraising efforts DeFronzo came up with the idea to jump in the cold winter water on his birthday as a fundraiser.
In 2017 DeFronzo said he bounced the idea off of some PPSC co-workers and the board of directors.
“I told Mary Cole (board chair) I thought I could raise a couple hundred bucks,” said DeFronzo. “She thought I should shoot for a lot more so I set the goal at $1,000.”
The jump was quick and DeFronzo was in and out of the water in just a few seconds.
“All of us that work at PPSC truly love the program and would do anything for it…I would jump in every day if that’s what it takes for us to thrive and succeed,” he said.