Though it really isn’t traditional winter weather with a daytime high of three degrees participants still took a leap of faith at the 13th annual Kingston Police Polar Plunge in support of Special Olympics Ontario on Sunday.
Sergeant Steve Koopman said this year’s turnout is impressive.
“We normally have 100 participants. This year I think we’re at 200 or 200-plus and we punch above our weight level here. We, as a medium sized community and municipality, I think we’re actually going to be number one in the province so far,” said Koopman.
The event is done in partnership with the Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run to raise awareness and funds for the athletes and families of Special Olympics Ontario.
For participant James Vowles and his mother, who are both avid polar plungers, the combination of cause and event made it a fun outing for them.
“Mom and I usually do the Kingston Wim Hof group every Sunday and Wednesday, and we just wanted to come out to support individuals with disabilities and we just wanted to come out and join the group,” said Vowles.
A large crowd of participants and spectators alike gathered around the Crawford Wharf, and soon enough, the plunging began.
Vowles said the experience can be tough, but the feeling is like no other.
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“When you’re in the water, you just feel at peace. The best thing to describe it is all your nerves just calm down, you just take in the environment and take in the breathing, and you’re one with nature pretty much,” he added.
For Kingston Police, Koopman compares the event to Christmas eve.
“It means so much, it hits us in the feels. We’ve been able to have the honour to have provincial championships here and last year we hosted the school championships for younger teens or special Olympians that have developmental disabilities,” he said.
Police units across the province are participating from now through March, but Koopman said he thinks they’ll be near the top when it comes to fundraising.
“At this point we’re really at about the $60,000 mark which is humungous,” said Koopman.