Earl Sutherland and Shawn O'Hara take the freezing cold plunge into Sylvan Lake during the Sylvan Lake Polar Dip. Last year the event raised over $24

Dozens dive into frigid waters for charity

Sylvan Lake’s Polar Dip drew the brave among us in Central Alberta. Forty-eight jumpers tested the frigid sub-zero Sylvan Lake waters to raise money for charity on Saturday.

Sylvan Lake’s Polar Dip drew the brave among us in Central Alberta.

Forty-eight jumpers tested the frigid sub-zero Sylvan Lake waters to raise money for charity on Saturday.

They dressed in their favourite NHL and CFL team jerseys, coloured wigs, boxers or bikinis. Many were back for a second or fourth year while others took the plunge for the first time.

All participants committed to raise at least $50 for a charity like the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter, KidsSport or a food bank.

Chrystal Belanger, 32, of Sylvan Lake, took her fourth Polar Dip for good cause. Belanger raised $15,000 for the Central Alberta Women’s Shelter all together. This year she raised $5,300 with Shelly Newell, 34, also of Sylvan Lake.

“I’m just crazy,” laughed Belanger, about why she keeps jumping. “It’s a very good cause. It gives money to other people who need help.”

Mother Nature gave the dippers a bit of a winter break. Belanger said this year’s weather was one of the most inviting for dipping. The high was +2 C on Saturday.

“But it was still cold,” laughed Newell, who made her second jump this year.

First-time plunger Kara Leopold, 19, dressed in a nursing uniform, raised $150 money for the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.

“It was amazing,” said Leopold. “Except my feet are super cold right now.”

Plungers jumped in pairs into a square shaped hole, west of the Sylvan Lake Pier. Crews from the Sylvan Lake Fire Department carved the hole and were on the lake to help plungers get out of the cold waters.

Last year, the event raised $24,500 for charity. The totals for this year’s event were not finalized.

Organizer Gerrie Friesen said there was a good turn out this year. Blackfalds also hosted its 5th annual Penguin Dip at the Blackfalds Multiplex on Monday. About 12 people took the plunge.


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