Alaska Collection

How Geri Nipp’s teams’, in and on the water, help her raise funds for cancer awareness and research.

Geri Nipp is intimately acquainted with Alaska’s icy waters. Not just because she’s the general manager of Kenai Fjords Tours, but because for almost 20 years, since moving to Alaska from Minnesota, Nipp has cheered-on or participated-in the ever-popular Seward Polar Bear Jump.

“When I first moved up here as a resident, it was 2004 and I watched some friends of mine jump in and it was super fun to just be with them and to see their excitement,” says Nipp.

The polar plunge raises funds in support of the American Cancer Society, an organization that works to improve the lives of people with cancer and their families through advocacy, research, and patient support.

A community coming together

It also happens to be one of the community events of the season in Seward, according to Nipp. The multi-day celebration is complete with a parade and a variety of events for the influx of out-of-town folks who come to cheer on their friends and colleagues or to bite the bullet themselves and plunge in.

“Alaska is such a tight knit community that many of my friends are also my co-workers,” says Nipp. “We always talk about our team here and how close they are. I feel like that's just awesome to have that camaraderie.”

The cause, raising funds and awareness to eliminate cancer, is a noble one, but the action — a full-body plunge into the often-frigid waters of Resurrection Bay surrounding Seward — is a bold one, even if there aren’t any whales, sea otters or puffins involved. Luckily, there’s still a healthy dose of creativity and fun needed for this otherwise serious endeavor.

Honoring loved ones

This past January when Nipp and her team took the dip, they dressed as a group of bowling pins (five-pin bowling to be precise), in white, full-body Tyvek suits (which did double duty insulating the quintet from the water) and carried props like blow-up bowling balls with them during the pre-plunge parade.

Nipp’s personal connection, having lost her brother, sister and mother to cancer, makes her take pride in knowing her efforts are going toward a good cause and can ultimately help benefit her community. To participate in the plunge, individuals are required to raise at least $750. The highest amount of funds Nipp has ever raised is around the $3,000 mark.

A promise to those affected by cancer

To demonstrate their support, many of Geri’s coworkers made personal donations to the American Cancer Society.

"Initiatives like the Seward Polar Bear Jump-off Festival foster a strong sense of community among our team members. For us, it’s important to embrace activities that bring us together, promoting camaraderie and shared experiences – guided by our Promise to Place" says Alexa Donahe, vice president and general manager of Pursuit’s Alaska Collection.

“Pursuit is a family and to have your family supporting you is really important,” says Nipp.

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