Dozens of central Albertans will take a dip into freezing water this weekend.
The Polar Plunge in Red Deer, in support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Alberta, will take place at the Bower-Kin Community Centre Saturday at 11 a.m.
Lorrie Sitler, Torch Run provincial manager, said people love participating in the event.
“It’s so great. We have people who come in costumes and in teams,” Sitler said. “We had Rick Mercer plunge in Edmonton a few years ago in a penguin costume. We also have a lot of officers come in their full uniform.”
Jumping into water with below-freezing temperatures can be a nerve-racking experience, she added.
“People who are doing it for the first time are quite nervous about it, but once they get out of the water and hit the hot tub they’re like, ‘Oh, I’m coming back next year.’ They get geared up and excited for it,” said Sitler.
This is the fourth of five Polar Plunges supporting the Torch Run this year – the events have been held in Edmonton, Calgary and Lethbridge so far; the final one is in Medicine Hat next weekend.
“This year was probably our best in each of the locations.”
The Polar Plunge has been running for eight years, but this is just the second year it has come to Red Deer. Last year there were less than 10 participants, raising about $5,000 – there are nearly 50 participants registered and more than $10,000-plus has been raised for this weekend’s plunge so far.
“Even if people don’t want to plunge, we’d love to have people come out to see what it’s about and cheer on all the plungers.”
The goal is to collectively raise $250,000 from the Polar Plunges.
“The Law Enforcement Torch Run has been supporting Special Olympics in Alberta since 1987,” said Sitler. “Our goal is to be the largest awareness and fundraiser for the athletes with intellectual disabilities.”
Many police officers develop relationships with those athletes, Sitler said.
“What they bring into our officer’s lives in unbelievable. A lot of our officers can face tremendous negativity … in their jobs, and this is a place they can go and help people in a vulnerable sector improve their lives.”
To register for the event, or to donate money, www.alberta.polarplunge.ca.