It wasn’t the lure of the first swim of the season that had West Tisbury police officer Bradley Cortez jumping off the Big Bridge into the still-cold waters of Nantucket Sound on Tuesday. Officer Cortez was living up to a challenge.
Officer Cortez is one of many Islanders participating in the Cold Water Challenge, he told the Gazette Wednesday. Those challenged are asked to jump in cold water to bring awareness to a cause. Or if they opt not to take a chilly plunge, they can donate money to the charity.
The Cold Water Challenge is “an epic event right now,” Officer Cortez said. “Everybody is jumping in the ice cold water.”
Matt Montanile challenged Officer Cortez to jump in the water or donate $100 to the Wounded Warrior Project. Officer Cortez is a veteran who served with the 82nd Airborne Divison of the U.S. Army. He served two tours in Afghanistan.
“I was grateful to help out the Wounded Warrior Project,” he said. “I lost many men and it just feels good to be home.”
After being challenged, Officer Cortez headed out Tuesday for his inaugural swim of the season. His brother Tony Cortez was on hand to document the jump.
“I’m up for a challenge and I loved it,” Officer Cortez said.
Which is not to say that Tuesday’s swim was enjoyable. “Freezing,” he said. “I got right out.”
Officer Cortez, in turn, has challenged three more people to complete the challenge: a Vineyard Haven police officer and two deputies from the sheriff’s department.
“I’m so glad I did it,” he said.