by Ryan Herbert
Dozens of Torontonians braved the cold weather this past Saturday for the third annual Toronto Polar Bear Plunge.
Despite frigid temperatures of -7, feeling like -13 with the windchill, many took the bold step into the cold embrace of Lake Ontario. The plunge, that was scheduled for 12:30 PM, took place 30 minutes earlier and was instead held at Sir Casimir Gzowski Park, near Ellis and Lakeshore Blvd. The Plunge was initially suppose to be held at Budapest Park, however, that portion of Lake Ontario was frozen and organizers were forced to relocate.
The third annual Polar Bear Plunge was presented by the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run in an effort to raise funds for the Special Olympics Ontario 2019 Invitational Youth Games which are to be hosted in Toronto this May 14th to the 17th, 2019. The games bring together athletes from around the world, age 13 to 21, and allows them to participate in sports ranging from athletics, basketball, bocce, floor hockey, and soccer.
Toronto Police Chief, Mark Saunders, was present at the event before it started and made a statement where he applauded the “so many people here” that came out to show their support and that it is “so important that law enforcement is the primary sponsor of the event.” He went on to added that last year, the goal of the Polar Plunge was to raise $32,000, however, he warmed the crowd with news that “$45,000 was raised.” He went on to say that his goal was to make “$400,000 for the Special Olympics, which is such an important cause.”
Since 2017, the Polar Plunge has been attracting more and more people to take the daring dip into Lake Ontario with 86 people in attendance last year. The number of people that came out show their support grew this year with at least a 100 people ready to take the plunge. Participants were encouraged to fundraise for the Special Olympics by collecting donations from family, friends, and colleagues. The prize for highest amount fundraised was a 32 GB Samsung Tablet.
People from all over Toronto came out to be bold and show their support.
I Spoke to seasoned Polar Plunger, Diane Reed, who coaches athletes that participate in special olympics, and she gave her thoughts on the event and how she felt about the many people that came out to show their support for athletes with disabilities.