By Greg Price
Taber Police Service, along with Lethbridge Police Service, Blood Tribe Police Service, RCMP, Alberta Sheriffs and the Alberta Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR), are inviting citizens to take the plunge next month — alone or as part of a team — to help raise funds for Special Olympics.
The Sixth Annual Polar Plunge — Freezin’ for a Reason — is set for Saturday, Feb. 4, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at Henderson Lake in Lethbridge.
In addition to the icy dip, this family-friendly fundraising event includes entertainment, a fundraising BBQ, campfires, a western-themed costume contest and more.
“I have been involved with Special Olympics, specifically with the Law Enforcement Torch Ride (LETR), for over 12 years now. I participated in my first torch bike ride to Edmonton in 2013 and this year will mark my fourth consecutive ride,” said Mathieu Champagne, senior constable with the Taber Police Service and co-chairman of the 2017 Polar Plunge, involving a cause for the Special Olympics that Champagne is passionate about. “The torch ride is close to my heart as it is the number-one fundraising group for Special Olympics and their athletes. It is quite inspirational to see how hard the Special Olympics athletes have to work to simply overcome everyday obstacles, let alone come out and compete at such a high level at their events. I have had the pleasure of meeting several Special Olympics athletes at various LETR events that I’m involved with and I feel satisfaction to see directly where all of our hard work is going.”
Adventurous residents ready to brave the chilly waters may take the plunge alone or as part of a team by making a donation for the Polar Plunge. Registration is a minimum $75 donation, and those who want to contribute, but would rather remain bundled up on dry land, can register for $50 and receive a “Too Chicken to Plunge” T-shirt. All proceeds go to the Special Olympics.
“As you can imagine, the temperatures of southern Alberta can change drastically from year to year for this event. Last year, it was about zero degrees with a horrible wind-chill that felt close to -15. Even with the poor weather last year, there were close to 200 people who attended the event and we had over 30 teams register,” said Champagne. “My first Polar Plunge was last year, and I will be jumping again this year. Last year we saw representatives from our own Taber Police Service and the Taber Fire Department, and we hope to see the same this year.”
The plunge will start at approximately 12 p.m. on Feb. 4 and interested participants are asked to register and submit their donations at the Henderson Lake registration tent that will be set up after 10 a.m. on the day of the event.
“Last year the Polar Plunge in Lethbridge alone raised over $18,000. This was a huge number considering that it’s a smaller LETR event when you compare it to the bike ride to Edmonton which is the number-one fundraiser for Special Olympics worldwide,” said Champagne. “Just to give you an idea, last year the Lethbridge LETR raised over $23,000 and province wide we raised over $100,000. It is a relief to see, especially last year with the change in the economy, that the people of southern Alberta are still willing to donate their hard earned money to our cause, as without them these Special Olympics athletes would not be able to compete at such a high level.”
For safety reasons, there will be no diving, no cannonballs and no somersaults for the Polar Plunge. Plungers must wear a swimsuit or other clothing and are reminded to bring dry gear to change into after their dip. Men’s and women’s changing areas will be set up on site, however there will be no secure storage for valuables. Team, individual, and Too Chicken registration forms as well as any other information about the event is available on the Polar Plunge website at http://www.alberta.polarplunge.ca or contact Senior Constable Mathieu Champagne at 403-223-8991 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I’d like to encourage everyone to check out the Polar Plunge website or come out to the event on Feb. 4 at Henderson Lake and grab some BBQ. If you’re brave enough come register and take the plunge,” said Champagne. “I’d also like to encourage local businesses and sports teams to register as a team as this can defiantly be a team building event that is likely to raise the moral of the team.”