For over ten years, Southie native Kevin Conroy raised money for the New England Scleroderma Foundation by jumping into the icy waters of Boston Harbor on New Year’s Day. Kevin’s sister Elizabeth Lombard is the mother of five and suffers from the disease.

The Polar Plunge is tradition and the tradition of raising money for an important cause has been passed on from Conroy to the Lombard/McKenna family.

Elizabeth Lombard with Paul Lombard

“Our uncle Kevin has been running the Polar Plunge fundraiser for over a decade to benefit the New England Scleroderma Foundation in honor of our mother,” said Barbara Lombard. Since Kevin recently retired from the role, the rest of the Lombard/McKenna family jumped (literally and figuratively) at the opportunity to continue this tradition.

“We could not be more grateful for all that he has done for this cause over the years,” added Lombard.

What is Scleroderma

Scleroderma is a chronic, progressive autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues. The disease, which literally means “hard skin”, can cause thickening and tightening of skin, as well as serious damage to internal organs. Presently the cause of Scleroderma is not known, and there is no cure.

History of South Boston and Scleroderma

South Boston was hit hard by Scleroderma. A cluster of Southie women were diagnosed with this rare disease, which left the small tight knit community confused and concerned. Elizabeth Lombard has led the charge in trying to find the cause of this disease through awareness and research.

Shane Begin, Ace O’Loughlin and Tom Cole 

With the help of local sponsors, friends, family and neighbors, the Southie Swims for Scleroderma event was able to raise just over $18,000 dollars for New England Scleroderma Foundation!

From the Lombard/McKenna Family

With the first year under our belts we are overwhelmed by the support and generosity we received while fundraising for the Southie Swims for Scleroderma event. Special shoutout and thanks to these local businesses for their generous donations:


Fat Baby



L Street Tavern

224 Boston Street


Touchie’s Shamrock Pub

Roza Lyons

The Broadway

Davio’s Steakhouse

The Harp


The Spot Clothing

Main image via Mo Hanley Instagram

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