Natalie Sandy was prepared to spend her 40th birthday splashing in the frigid waters of North Hempstead Beach Park on Saturday to raise money at the town’s annual polar plunge benefiting Special Olympics New York.
But she wasn’t prepared for a nor’easter to interrupt her support for one of her favorite causes.
When she arrived at the beach with her sister, stepson and mother in tow, a Special Olympics representative informed them that the plunge had been canceled due to rough waters following the storm. Sandy, a lifelong supporter of the Special Olympics who has participated in three plunges and who manages a group home in Queens, said she had been looking forward to plunging on her birthday.
“This is my life,” she said. “When I take that plunge, I take it in honor of all the individuals that I’ve worked with and that I still work [with].”
As she was getting ready to head home, her sister told her that her older brother, McAlvin Grannum, who lives in Rockland County, was on his way to the beach to surprise her for her birthday. Soon after, Grannum arrived at the beach with two large silver balloons that spelled out “40,” and the two embraced as her family filmed them on Facebook Live.
Even though she didn’t get to plunge on her birthday as planned, the cancellation turned out to be a good thing — she was able to raise an additional $140 to donate to Special Olympics New York when she participates in Saturday’s Town of Oyster Bay Polar Plunge at Tobay Beach.
Grannum joked that they should fulfill her birthday wish and go in the water anyway. But Sandy said the water was far too choppy to safely go in.
“I didn’t want my 40th birthday to be my last birthday,” she said, laughing.