TAMPA — More than 120 people helped raise almost $100,000 for the Children’s Cancer Center, and on Saturday they were rewarded with a dunk in a 2,000-gallon vat of goo.
Participants in this year’s Children’s Cancer Center Gelatin Plunge lined up on steps to the blue slide — it was pre-greased with vegetable oil — then slithered down into an the above-ground pool full of chilled orange Jell-O.
All of the money raised will go directly to the center, which provides financial, educational and emotional support to children diagnosed with cancer.
“We’re raising money in a way that allows these kids to participate and have fun,” said Patty O’Leary, chief operation officer of the organization.
To take a turn down the slide, individuals had to raise $500 and each member of a team had to raise $300. The event was held outside The Drynk on South Howard Avenue.
Well-known local figures — including Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and Bay area radio personalities — also took the plunge.
“I didn’t think it would be that cold,” said John Velazquez, who went down the slide twice on behalf of his team from Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.
After the plungers climbed out of the pool, they stepped into a blue kiddie pool where Tampa Fire Rescue volunteers hosed off the Jell-O.
Last year’s gelatin was blue and unscented, said Jennifer Versaggi, chair of the event. The plungers were much happier with this year’s orange, citrus-scented Jell-O.
The number of participants also was double last year’s tally, she said.
“This is just another way to support our families,” Versaggi said.
Aaron Klingebiel, 15, couldn’t participate last year because he was in a hospital, said his mother, Jen Klingebiel. This year he was able to go down the slide.
Their family came this year to support the organization, which has provided support since Aaron was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years ago, Jen Klingebiel said. The group does good work for families that need it.
“It’s important to have other people who know what you’re going through,” she said.