WOODSTOCK — On a frosty winter morning, snow still on the ground, April Moore and Katharine Layton were not afraid to plunge into the Shenandoah River in the name of fighting climate change.

Raising awareness and funds for environmental needs, the two women participated in the Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s annual Polar Bear Plunge.

Usually a big group event on the Potomac River in Oxon Hill, Maryland, the effort went virtual this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead of gathering along the National Harbor, participants were asked to document themselves taking the plunge individually, whether outside or at home in their bathtubs.

Layton, of Fort Valley, and Moore, of Basye, have done this for many years, and with the Shenandoah River available to them at nearby Seven Bends State Park, the women took the plunge in front of a handful of devotees.

“Let the fun begin,” Moore shouted before submerging herself in the river at the park’s northside low-water bridge.

“Okay, I did it,” she said shortly after. “Time to get out.”

Next up was Layton, who shouted, “Whoo!” before quickly adding, “That’s it for me.”

After recording their plunges, Layton and Moore will submit their videos to the organization and attend Saturday’s BRRRR-tual Polar Bear Plunge from 1 to 4 p.m. at chesapeakeclimate.org/event/brrrr-tual-polar-bear-plunge where they can see videos of other participants making the plunge as well.

Though frigid, the experience was worth it for the good it brings to fighting climate change, the women said.

“We need big, bold action,” Moore said.

Though the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) works legislatively on environmental platforms, she said the Polar Bear Plunge works to bring that effort to the public.

“CCAN does a lot in this area,” she said. “I’ve been impressed by what they’ve done [and their] passion for the planet.”

Moore serves on the board of CCAN, which she said has been called by international climate leader Bill McKibben "the most effective regional climate organization in the world."

“To immerse myself each year in frigid waters is well worth it because of the money raised,” she said.

This year, she has raised more than $6,000 from family, friends and others who sponsored her.

Layton, who brought along a large stuffed polar bear to Tuesday’s plunge, said the toy not only represents polar bears in danger from vanishing sea ice in the Arctic, “but also all the people who are hurting from climate change.”

For two women who have done this many times, Layton said, “This water feels very normal to us.”

For more information, visit keepwintercold.org or call 240-396-1981. To participate, visit chesapeakclimate.org/signup.

Contact Josette Keelor at jkeelor@nvdaily.com