Taking the plunge for a great cause

The team from Carlie Smith, Realtor, takes the plunge Sunday at H. H. Knoll Lakeview Park raising funds for Special Olympics.

Port Colborne’s inaugural Polar Plunge event was an overwhelming success Sunday, Feb. 9/2020, 62 registered plungers raised over $10,000 for the Special Olympics.

“While we had over $10,000 raised as of Friday, we still have money coming in, I think we may get up to $15,000 from this event once it is all totaled,” event organizer Luke Rowe said.

“This was certainly overwhelming,” he said. “We didn’t expect this many people to take the plunge.”

“This is the first time we’ve done this; we hope to keep the momentum going an do even better next year,” he said.

Individuals and teams participated in the plunge. Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele and his wife Debby got wet for charity.

“It was invigorating,” said Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele. “It was absolutely fantastic.”

“We had Port Colborne win the Mayor’s Cup, we won that championship,” he said. “Then we came here to be champions for Special Olympics.”

Port Colborne Mayor Bill Steele and wife Debby were part of the Polar Plunge raising money for Special Olympics.

“They are the real champions out there, this is all for them,” he said.

“I am just so glad that there is a great turnout from the people of the City of Port Colborne today,” he said. “This was our first event; the organizers did a bang-up job of organizing it.”

Port Colborne Fire and Emergency Services Chief Tom Cartwright also took the plunge.

“It was a little cold but, it was worth it,” he said. “There’s a lot of people who put money up to get me to do it.”

“Basically, I got challenged,” he said. “I always love a good challenge.”

One of the highlights from the event was Niagara Regional Police Sergeant Aaron Gross. He challenged the crowd to raise $250 to see him plunge into the lake in his uniform. The challenge only took minutes to complete; he took the plunge in uniform.

He is part of the Law Enforcement Torch Run which helps raise money for the Special Olympics.

“Whatever we can do to raise funds and awareness for Special Olympics, we like to help out,” he said. “There are 16 Polar Plunges around the province this year, we are looking to raise over $600,000.”

“Last year the Torch Run raised over $3 million for the Special Olympics,” he said.

The Polar Plunge was a new event this year at Port Colborne’s Annual SportsFest Festival of Sports, a fun-filled family weekend that raises money for different local organizations.

“It’s been an absolutely amazing weekend,” said Port Colborne corporate communications officer Michell Idzenga. “Every year just seems to get bigger and bigger.”

“This year the sno-pitch tournament had 12 teams which is the biggest turnout we’ve ever had for the Zuvic Memorial Sno-Pitch Tournament has ever had,” she said. “We had 36 teams in volleyball, the Mayor’s Cup just finished, the team from Port Colborne won in their division so we are pretty excited about that, the music trivia was packed, the Euchre tournament had full tables.”

“It’s just been a great weekend all around,” she said. “It’s been great seeing the community come out and support the events, see the families participate, it’s just been a great weekend all around.”