Chrystal Belanger and Denae Hussey take a big leap after raising more than $5,000 combined for the humane society and the Bethany Care Society. The two are veteran jumpers who have participated in the Polar Dip for many years. Photos by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Chrystal Belanger and Denae Hussey take a big leap after raising more than $5,000 combined for the humane society and the Bethany Care Society. The two are veteran jumpers who have participated in the Polar Dip for many years. Photos by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

Annual Polar Dip raises more than $16,000 for local charities

Hundreds watched as 38 jumpers braved the icey waters of Sylvan Lake

More than $16,000 was raised by brave individuals taking an icy plunge. The annual Polar Dip fundraising event was held on Sylvan Lake, Feb. 17 and raised a total of $16,206.90 for local charities.

The event had 45 people signed up to take the leap, but only 38 jumpers showed up.

Michelle Houle, special event coordinator with the Town of Sylvan Lake, says it is normal for less people to show up than what was signed up.

“Sometimes their schedule gets in the way, or maybe they just lose their nerve, but we don’t really see the same number as what sign up,” Houle said in a recent phone interview.

Generally, a large number of the jumpers who sign up each year are repeat jumpers. Houle called the repeat jumpers “very dedicated.”

While this year’s grand total is down from last year’s, Houle says that was expected going into this year’s event.

Last year the Polar Dip raised $30,000 thanks to a large donation to the Beacon Hill School’s playground. Without the large donation, Houle and the Polar Dip organizers expected the total to be down quite a bit.

“Last year’s total was beyond crazy.”

Normally, the Polar Dip will bring in between $12,000 and $20,000 for local charities.

The jumpers came out to support a wide variety of local charities. From the humane society, to the food bank or the Ronald McDonald House to YouthWrite.

Chrystal Belanger and Denae Hussey, to veteran jumpers, brought in the most for their chosen charities; Central Alberta Humane Society and Sylvan Lake Bethany Care Society. Together the two brought in $5,561 for the two charitable organizations.

“These girls come back every year, they really seem to love it,” Houle said.

Other top fundraisers from the Polar Dip includes: Trent Petrich, $1,415 or the Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta; Darian Lueken, $750.00 for KCS Association and Mandy Maltais, Brad Long and Doug Strongman, $1,235.00 for the Central Alberta Humane Society.

Corrie Brown and Sian Grant were able to raise enough money to send a local youth to a writing camp called YouthWrite.

Photo by Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News

According to Houle, the charities which received the largest donations are: Central Alberta Humane Society, $4,636; Sylvan Lake Bethany Care Society, $2,535; Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta, $1,872.50 and Sylvan Lake & Area Pet Shelter Society, $1,695.

“It was awesome, just a lot of fun,” Houle said, adding, “The atmosphere was great and the jumpers all had a lot of fun.”

This year the event was sponsored by Snake Lake Brewing, and provided shirts for all the jumpers. Houle said it was “great to have a sponsorship” this year.

The Sylvan Lake Fire Department also took part in the event, ensuring the jumpers were safe during the process.

Before jumping in, one participant motioned to the two firefighters in dry suits situated in the water and said, “You have some real gonads.”

“We were really excited to have the fire department out again to help us. They make sure everyone is safe and sound during the jumps.”

Houle also wanted to thank the jumpers who participated, saying the event couldn’t happen without them, and to everyone who attended even though the weather was a little on the cold side.

 

Some jumpers brought props, while others chose to brave the cold in little more than a regular swim suit.

Some jumpers brought props, while others chose to brave the cold in little more than a regular swim suit.