Edmonton Police Service members joined other supporters in braving temperatures below minus twenty to help raise money for Special Olympics Alberta. Cst. Amanda Trenchard who has worked with Special Olympics for over 20 years said over 200 plungers showed up despite the cold.
The Polar Plunge is holding six plunges with the first being in Edmonton. With a total goal of $150, 000, Special Olympics CEO Sue Gilchrist was thrilled with over $100, 000 reached by the first plunge in Edmonton. “This is a huge event for us. It goes such a long way to supporting all the needs of our athletes across the province.”
The funds assist Special Olympics Alberta with things like transportation, programs and facility rentals allowing them to offer low-cost programs to their athletes.
This year saw many first-time plungers including Elks football player Aaron Grymes who admitted to being nervous but excited to support such incredible athletes. “I don't know how to prepare for this. I could prepare for football games and tackling. And how do you prepare to jump in a freezing lake?”
A large group, the Edmonton Exchangers going by the name of the Little Exchangers, also joined the ranks of first timers. President Tim Gusse said there was no fear, and the team was ready to go. “We have a fairly, fairly young fearless group, so that's how we got a lot of support for this.” And support is exactly what they brought with over $27,000 raised by the group of 24 people.
Though cold, the plunge went off without a hitch with everyone from the Chief Dale McFee to local radio hosts Crash and Mars getting in on the fun and embracing their inner polar bear. Chief McFee, who has plunged several times before, knows it is uncomfortable but says it is certainly worth it. “We all want to do this. And it's just so encouraging to see when you look at the Special Olympics and in particular this Polar Plunge the money that's raised out of Edmonton. It’s something to be proud of and I'm proud of everybody that comes out. And obviously it's nothing that's comfortable, but at the end of the day it's worth it.”
For anyone that missed this Polar Plunge there is still plenty of time with events still coming up in Canmore, Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, and Medicine Hat. To register or donate go to Special Olympics Alberta.