Polar Plunge raises thousands for Special O

Winnie the Pooh from the Pembina Manitou Fire Department takes the Polar Plunge at the Morden Multicultural Winterfest on Feb. 16. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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On Feb. 16, people were #FreezinForAReason at the fourth annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics during Morden’s Multicultural Winterfest.

The event this year, which raised around $20,000 for Special Olympics, saw police and fire departments around the region join with other jumpers to brave the bitter cold water tank outside the Access Event Centre.

“For a small community such as ours people really get behind this event,” Polar Plunge committee chair Const. Scott Edwards said. “We’re also very fortunate to be able to hop in and take part in it while Winterfest is going on. We’re fortunate and pleased to have that partnership.”

“As law enforcement officers, I think it’s important to be involved in the community,” Edwards said. “There’s a special bond between athletes and law enforcement. We both look up to each other.”

“It’s a great cause and we’ve kind of taken to it here in Morden and had some success,” he added. “We think it’s important to continue to send these athletes to events and give them opportunities they might not otherwise have.”
The Dumpster Diving Divas raised the most team amount with just over $3,000, and Dr. Ben Lulashnyk raised around $2,055 to claim the title of top individual donor.
Lulashnyk said he reached out to a lot of community members and staff at Boundary Trails to help him raise the funds.
“A big push came locally from some individuals in Morden and the Buds Hockey Club,” he said.
Lulashnyk said he wanted to help raise money because Special Olympics is a good cause to get behind. “We all want to support everyone in all walks of life participating in activities and sports and there’s no reason to not get behind the community to support those things.”
This year was Lulashnyk’s first time plunging.
“As a first time plunger I was told I would be last, so there was anticipation of having to wait to see everybody else go through,” he said. “As you go up there and get to the top, it’s kind of a dark abyss. The water is pretty black up there. You think it’s a clear tank but it’s not.”
“You see the firefighters and they’ve got some frost around their faces and you see everyone else coming in and they’re cold, you know that you’re in for an experience,” he added.
Lulashnyk said he would definitely consider doing the event next year.
Edwards said it’s because of support from jumpers like Lulashnyk that the event can run.
“He raised more than most teams,” he said. “Without people like him we wouldn’t be nearly as successful. It’s a small community, people get behind the cause and we’re very fortunate.”
Edwards has done the Plunge four times in Morden and once in Winnipeg. He said it does get easier each time.
“There were a few first timers here this year, and you could tell because there was a little bit of anxiety and anticipation,” he said. “Knowing what to expect it’s still not easy, but the unknown is gone so it’s easier.”

A jumper at the Morden Polar Plunge flings water at watchers after getting out of the tank. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

A jumper at the Polar Plunge in Morden gets a high five before heading inside to dry off and warm up. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

Polar Plunge committee chair Const. Scott Edwards thanked the top individual donor Dr. Ben Lulashnyk for raising over $2,000. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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