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Crucian Takes Icy Dip for Special Olympics

March 4, 2009 — Carolyn Keys, a resident of St. Croix, recently performed a special feat for Special Olympics by plunging into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean about 1,500 miles north of her home island.
In February she took part in the Polar Bear Plunge in Rehoboth Beach, Del. The water temperature was 40 degrees and the air just 50 degrees in Keys' first plunge. She said 2,700 people took part.
"It's amazing to see so many people doing the plunge," Key said. "I wish this was the nice warm Caribbean."
Keys is on a retreat at Pendle Hill, a Quaker Study and Contemplation Center near Philadelphia, where she is writing and studying arts and spirituality. Her Arts and Spirituality teacher, Carol Sexton, invited Keys, her sister and several others to take part in the fundraiser. Joining Keys in the plunge were six student residents and staff at the center, ranging in age from 13 to 67. The team from Pendle Hill raised around $1,025.
"I would do it again if I was in the right area at the the right time," Keys said. "I'll try to do it again next year."
Keys said it was her first retreat at Pendle Hill as a resident student for a term or more — in her case, three terms. She had previously sojourned there for a night or two at a time when passing the area. She had also been on short retreats and taken short courses at another Quaker retreat center, Powell House in Old Chatham, N.Y.
Keys is a longtime resident of St. Croix, with some off-island years in New Jersey and Burundi a country in east-central Africa. She returned to live on her beloved island of St. Croix in December 2002.
"I will be happy to return home later this year to swim in a warm ocean," Keys said.
She doesn't swim everyday, but she likes to walk alone or with a friend on the beach before sunrise, then take a swim until the sun is well up in the sky around 7:30 a.m. Sometimes she swims around 5 p.m. and stays at the beach to watch the sunset.
"I like to walk on the pier in Frederiksted early in the morning and watch the turtles swim by," Keys said.
The Special Olympics will take place Saturday on St. Croix.
"I think it is a fun, great event and ongoing organization which provides an important opportunity for disabled children and youth to shine," Keys said. She helped in the 1970s when the Special Olympics of St. Croix was just getting started. Keys greatly admires Janice Lee, who started and has championed Special Olympics for so long.
"I say do whatever you can to be involved for and with these important members of our community," Keys said.
Her most recent efforts have involved introducing the Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) to St. Croix under the care of Interfaith Coalition of St. Croix. AVP expanded to St. Thomas early last year.
Keys plans to be back on St. Croix in early August after visiting family and attending her 50th high school reunion in Ludington, Mich.
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