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Red Deer Polar Plunge supports Special Olympics

More than a dozen central Albertans jumped into a tank full of water in freezing temperatures to support Special Olympics Alberta.
Sixteen people participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run’s annual Polar Plunge in Red Deer on Saturday. The event raised more than $6,000 for Special Olympics Alberta. (Contributed photo)

More than a dozen central Albertans jumped into a tank full of water in freezing temperatures to support Special Olympics Alberta.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run’s annual Polar Plunge returned as an in-person event for the first time since 2019 on Saturday at the Bower-Kin Community Centre.

Money raised through the Polar Plunge, which features a total of six events across Alberta, benefits the 2,5000-plus Special Olympics Alberta athletes.

The 16 plungers at the Red Deer event helped raised more than $6,000. The Alberta-wide goal was $150,000, which was successfully reached.

“This is a great event. We haven’t been able to do it for three years,” said Jerry Tennant, Special Olympics Red Deer chairman.

“We did it virtually for the last two years – it was moderately successful, but nothing like having it in person, where you’re seeing people plunge into the big tank full of water.”

The event “goes a long way” in helping Special Olympics Red Deer offer its programs, Tennant noted.

“The Law Enforcement Torch Run is made up of a great bunch of people from all of the law enforcement agencies. They do this as well as some other fundraising for us,” Tennant said.

“The money goes to programs for our 300 athletes and 50 coaches involved in the 13 sports we run throughout the year. It’s a major fundraiser for us.”

Special Olympics is “very important” for the athletes, Tennant added.

“When we had to shut down for a year and a half because of COVID, it was really tough on a lot of them,” he said.

“This is their sporting life, it’s their social life. It was nice this year to get back fully to our programming.”

Korey Cleland, co-chair of Law Enforcement Torch Run’s central region, dressed up as Fred Flintstone when he plunged into the tank of water. He jumped in the water twice alongside Jason, a Special Olympics athlete who was dressed as Barney Rubble.

“His mom sent me a text a while back telling me I inspired him to do the (Polar) Plunge for the first time. Jason raised over $675 on his own for this,” said Cleland.

“It’s intimidating when you get onto the platform and you know the cold shock is going to happen. You jump in and that initial shock hits you. But when you get out, you feel good, you feel refreshed. I love doing it every year.”

Cleland said Special Olympics is a great organization to support.

“I was born and raised in Red Deer and I just want to give back,” he said.

“A lot of these athletes look up to us. But really, we look up to them. I do this to give back and to see the smiles on their faces.”

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Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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