June 22nd, 2024

Polar Plunge makes a splash for the Special Olympics

By Lethbridge Herald on February 6, 2023.

Herald photo by Ry Clarke An inflatable lobster totting participant makes their way to the ladder after jumping into the chilly waters of Henderson Lake as part of Saturday’s annual Polar Plunge fundraiser for Special Olympics.

Ry Clarke – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The weather was in the positives Saturday afternoon when the community gathered at Henderson Lake to make a splash in the annual Polar Plunge. 

Though the weather was 5C, the water looked a lot colder with the wind-chill reminding jumpers of the impending freeze. But it was all worth it with money raised going towards Special Olympics Alberta.

 Hosted by the Lethbridge Police Service in partnership with the Law Enforcement Torch Run, the park was filled with jumpers ready to take the plunge for a good cause.

“This is a huge fundraiser for Special Olympics Alberta. Participants will brave the cold and take the plunge into the beautiful blue waters of Henderson Lake, all for a great cause,” said Matt Burton, provincial director for Alberta Law Enforcement Torch Run.

“The water looks cold, probably about two or three degrees is what I’m guessing. But you know what? It’s breathtaking, especially when you jump in.”

Jumping for the ninth year, Burton said it is always fun and great to come out and show support for Special Olympics Alberta with the community.

Sitting at $112,000 before the plunge, the team will look to reach its goal of $150,000.

“That’s not including the donations we have received today, but we have got three more plunges coming up in Red Deer, Medicine Hat and Calgary,” said Burton.

“All of our participants are asked to raise funds – we have some teams here that have raised a ton of money. That’s how we raise the money for Special Olympics Alberta. These events are not just about raising funds, though. They are also about raising awareness for individuals with intellectual disabilities.”

Participants including police officers, paramedics, firefighters, City staff and residents took the plunge starting just after noon screaming with delight – or from the cold.

 “It’s good, it’s great. You know, it has been colder, we have had, I think, m-37 one year. This was actually a pleasant surprise this year,” said Mayor Blaine Hyggen after his plunge.

“It’s really heartwarming to be honest, the amount of dollars that the sponsors get for this event is great. Each year it grows more and more. You look at the last few years we haven’t been able to be here with this great crowd because of the pandemic. To see everyone here together it’s really good for the community.”

Plungers who took on the cold helped more 2,500 athletes across Alberta participate and experience the joy of sports. 

“Get involved in community organizations if you want to come out and meet some really awesome people,” said Burton. “And also come out to one of our Special Olympic events and meet our athletes, they are the reason why we do this, it is truly for them.”

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