January 1, 2019 10:36 pm
Updated: January 2, 2019 5:55 pm

Calgarians welcome 2019 in freezing waters to fight human trafficking

Amazing Race Canada contestants Julie and Lowell Taylor took a dip in frigid waters in Calgary on New Year's Day.

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About 150 people took a stand against human trafficking by taking a dip in frigid waters in Calgary on New Year’s Day.

A mermaid, a dinosaur, dart boards and Santa donning short shorts took the plunge at the 10th annual Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip at Mahogany Beach Club.

READ MORE: Calgarians take brave dip for a good cause

Ross Weaver and Bernie Potvin, co-founders of Old Guys in Action and the Calgary Icebreaker Polar Dip, hopped in the water first to make sure the temperature was cold enough.

“The first year we did this in Discovery Ridge, there were seven of us that did it and it was -22 C, so this seems positively balmy,” Weaver said. “It’s about 4 C, sun’s out; it’s a lovely day.”

Whether the weather was nice or not, though, the water was still near the freezing point.

“There’s no getting used to it. There’s getting in, there’s getting out, and that’s it,” Weaver said.

“We’ve had people say they can’t get the smile off their faces because it’s frozen there permanently,” he added. “They have a great time.”

All the freezing raised funds for the Servants Anonymous Foundation, an organization that provides recovery programs for women and girls who are survivors of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. As of Tuesday evening, they’re at $86,000 of their $125,000 goal.

“The average age of entering into human trafficking in Canada is 13 years old, if you can imagine that,” Weaver said. “So this is a cause that we truly believe in and we think this does great work along with Servants Anonymous Foundation.”

READ MORE: 25% of human trafficking victims in Canada are children: StatsCan

Despite tough economic times, Calgarians are stepping up, Potvin said.

“The generosity of people is just beyond anything we can imagine,” he said.

Old Guys in Action started 12 years ago when the co-founders decided to raise funds for causes by holding marathons.

“You can’t sit there when there’s this disgusting thing going on in the world,” Potvin said. “You really can’t. You’ve got to do something.”

“A little bit of pain, a little bit of awareness… we’re not alone in feeling that we have to do something.”

READ MORE: Brave Calgarians ring in the new year with polar dip

At the event, Amazing Race Canada season four contestants Julie and Lowell Taylor sported ski bibs painted to say ‘Blonde Dipster’ and ‘Blind Dipster.’

“While I hate being cold, one: this is an adventure and we love adventure,” Julie said. “Two: the discomfort that we experience very temporarily here is minimal compared to what the victims of human trafficking experience constantly.”

“I won’t see the cold coming,” Lowell said. “I’m legally blind but I do have a little bit of vision right through the centre, but what I lack in sight I have a lot of vision — and our vision for helping other people, for adventure, and today, to really speak against the injustice that is going on in our country and around the world against the way people have been treating [people], women especially.”

The couple said they wished they would have done the polar dip in Yellowknife when they were on the show.

“Really glad to be here today among all these other crazy people,” Lowell said.

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