Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : December 2012

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“Doing something bigger than yourself – that’s a good feeling.” Michael J. Baxter, MSBA President-Elect

Each January, members of the MSBA Young Lawyers Section (YLS), along with thousands of other Marylanders, brave the icy waters of Sandy Point State Park to support Special Olympics Maryland in its ongoing mission of providing sports training, athletic competition, and other development opportunities to persons with intellectual disabilities.

During the summer of 2011, a few of those YLS members “dared” then MSBA President-Elect John P. Kudel to join them in the Maryland State Police Polar Bear Plunge.

“As time went by, I thought it would be both fun and an excellent opportunity to promote this worthwhile cause,” says Kudel, who, as MSBA President, will throw the full weight of his office behind the endeavor by immersing himself in the frigid Chesapeake as part of the 17th Annual Polar Bear Plunge on Saturday, January 26, 2013.

What’s more, Kudel will be joined by President-Elect Michael J. Baxter; the Honorable Pamila J. Brown, MSBA Secretary; and MSBA Treasurer Debra G. Schubert.

Despite the frosty prospect of a 40-degree swim, Baxter looks forward to “seeing all the other people willing to do something a little crazy to help someone else. Doing something bigger than yourself – that’s a good feeling.”

“Like all professions, lawyers do a lot of good things, but sometimes they go unrecognized,” he adds. “[The Plunge] is visible, benefits an undeniably good cause, and is a fresh idea for the leadership of the MSBA.”

Brown – an Associate Judge on the Howard County District Court – welcomes the opportunity to demonstrate a commitment to public causes shared by members of the Maryland bench.

“Even though we put on a robe, we do not leave behind our passion to support causes that make a difference in our communities, and society in general,” notes Brown. “I am looking forward to the camaraderie that the day brings, and knowing my small part can make a difference in the life of a child or adult.”

More than 14,000 participants dipped themselves into the chilly Chesapeake for the 2012 Plunge, raising $2.6 million for the Maryland Special Olympics in the process. Since its inception, the event has generated more than $22 million for Special Olympics Maryland.

While MSBA plungers have collectively raised about $6,000 each of the last few years, Kudel aims to double, or even triple, that amount by appealing to individuals and businesses alike. “I hope that our visibility as Officers of the MSBA will generate enthusiasm and interest that translates into big donations,” he says.

Likewise, Brown wants to highlight the “countless causes that lawyers lend their support to, either by serving on a Board of Directors, providing pro bono legal advice, attending events or making contributions.”

“Hopefully,” she says, “the MSBA Officers’ participation will encourage our members to continue their efforts in their respective communities, and that the newest members of the profession will also see that everyone can do something to make a difference, no matter how small or large.”

“As I said in my inaugural speech in June in Ocean City, lawyers are born do-gooders – it is in our DNA,” Kudel adds. “Whether it is Special Olympics, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, or the House of Ruth, I know we can count on Maryland lawyers to do their part to support all worthwhile causes.”

The MSBA Officers and Young Lawyers Section will host tailgating festivities, including warm food and beverages, both before and after the Plunge.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin : December 2012

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