WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan recognized Dan Rath of Keene as February’s Granite Stater of the month. Since 2001, Dan has led a team for the Special Olympics New Hampshire’s Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach to fundraise for the organization’s various programs.
Dan started his team, the Frozen Sections, after fundraising and plunging on his own the first winter. He began recruiting friends and people he met through his job at Cheshire Medical Center to grow the group, and this year, the 17 members of the Frozen Sections raised over $31,000 for Special Olympics NH.
With his love for being in the water and serving as a special education teacher, at 70 years old, Dan continues to lead an impressive group each year in taking the Penguin Plunge. Dan, the Frozen Sections, and all participants endure the frigid winter waters of Hampton Beach to help Granite State children and adults with intellectual disabilities experience the joy and empowerment of participating in a sport.
Senator Hassan launched the “Granite Stater of the Month” initiative in 2017 to recognize outstanding New Hampshire citizens who go above and beyond to help their neighbors and make their communities stronger. To nominate a New Hampshire citizen to be a “Granite Stater of the Month,” constituents can complete the nomination form here.
To read Senator Hassan’s statement for the Congressional Record, see below.
I am honored to recognize Dan Rath of Keene as February’s Granite Stater of the Month. For the past 22 years, Dan has led a team -- the Frozen Sections -- in Special Olympics New Hampshire’s Penguin Plunge at Hampton Beach.
Special Olympics New Hampshire works to foster inclusion for people of all ages with intellectual disabilities by enabling them to participate in sports. The yearly Penguin Plunge, where participants raise money and plunge in frigid Hampton Beach waters in early February, serves as a way to fundraise for Special Olympics New Hampshire’s various programs. When Dan’s wife showed him an ad to participate in the Penguin Plunge in 2001, he knew he had to sign up. Not only had Dan been a special education teacher for four years earlier in his career, but he also loved being in any type of body of water.
After fundraising and plunging the first winter on his own, Dan began recruiting friends and people who he met through his job at Cheshire Medical Center. The recovery room nurses came up with a saying—“If you ain’t plunging, you’re pledging”—since if Dan couldn’t convince someone to sign up for the Penguin Plunge with him, he usually could persuade them to at least donate instead.
At 70 years old, Dan continues to lead an impressive group each year in taking the Penguin Plunge. This year, the 17 members of the Frozen Sections raised over $31,000 for Special Olympics NH. The highest fundraiser of the group was Becky May, who has been a Special Olympics athlete herself since the age of five and who raised more than $13,000 by driving across the state and knocking on doors to raise money.
The other members of this year’s Frozen Sections were: Cindy Bunszel, Patrick Moynihan, Aaron St. Peter, Trevor Hunt, Trent Hunt, Stacy Taylor, Kelly Erunski, Downey Page, Sean Craig, Taylor Woodward, Steve Hart, Cherie Rowe, Michelle Leavitt, Priscilla Jones and Larry Welkowitz.
I commend Dan, the Frozen Sections, and all Penguin Plunge participants in our state for submerging themselves in the frigid winter waters of Hampton Beach year after year in order to raise money for Special Olympics New Hampshire. Their hard work helps Granite State children and adults with intellectual disabilities to experience the joy and empowerment that comes with participating in a sport. Their commitment to making an impact in their communities is inspiring and a hallmark of the Granite State spirit, and I thank them for making New Hampshire a more inclusive place.