The early-spring waters of Morse Pond were frigid, while the wind picked up and raised choppy little waves along the sparkling surface. No question, the pond looked cold. Oh well, that was just business as usual at the sixth annual Plunge for Elodie, and determined Wellesley community members gathered in force to jump right in, literally, to fight Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB). The rare disorder affects people who are missing a critical protein that helps bind the layers of their skin together.
Elodie is the kindergartener who inspires her supporters to dash into the water and out every March, as the hope grows ever stronger that a cure will be found for the life-threatening genetic disease. The facts of EB are sobering. Those with EB have extremely fragile skin, which leads to severe pain and wounds. It’s up to family members to change bandages at least daily, and obsessively guard against infection. Currently there are neither treatments nor a cure, and children’s lives are cut devastatingly short due to infections, nutrition issues, and neoplastic complications.
Those who plunge for Elodie and her peers get it. It’s all about empathy. It’s all about community.
“I’m here because it’s a really important cause, and basically we’re jumping in the water and it’s such an insignificant amount of pain that we’re going through compared to what Elodie’s going through,” said Wellesley High School football team member Declan Ahern.
“It’s such a good cause and it’s good to be united as a team and do something that’s this important. It feels great to be here with the whole community,” said WHS track member Anna Turner.
The Wellesley connection is strong for this event, which hosts satellite Plunges in almost a dozen other locations in the U.S. and internationally. Elodie’s mom, Emily Kubik, is a WHS Class of 1999 graduate. She’s backed up by her crew of WHS besties, whose friendship and deep connection have thrived over the years. Emily has always felt supported throughout her daughter’s diagnosis at birth, and during the subsequent challenges the family has faced. “People don’t believe me when I say I have ten best friends from high school. I think they think it’s a little weird. But I think it’s amazing, and I couldn’t imagine it any other way,” she shared with the crowd of a couple hundred during pre-Plunge remarks.
This group of lifelong friends has been a part of a larger team whose dedication has been instrumental in raising millions of dollars to fund EB research. They expect to raise over $2 million this year, making it one of the most successful rare disease fundraisers in the world. Thanks to their tireless efforts, there are currently 39 clinical trials devoted to EB, up from just two trials in 2010.
— swellesley (@swellesley) March 29, 2023
As groups dashed into Morses Pond in waves, shouting with pumped-up bravado on the way into the water, shrieking with shock on the way out, it was clear something important was happening. On the sidelines Elodie’s purple and pink butterfly wings flapped as she jumped up and down with excitement. Elodie may not yet fully grasp how many people have her back. With hope, and a cure, someday she will.