Lethbridge residents dive into ice-cold water in support of Special Olympics

Lethbridge's Polar Plunge took place on Saturday, Feb. 2. Chris Chacon/Global News

Fearless crowds in Lethbridge traded their winter coats for swimsuits on Saturday.

“We’re out here today for the 2019 Polar Plunge on this fine, tropical day. It’s fantastic; it’s perfect weather for plunging,” said Sheriff Matt Burton, one of the committee chairs for the event.

READ MORE: Alberta commemorates Special Olympics 50th anniversary

“(The) first year that they started the Torch Run (a fundraising event for the Special Olympics), they started with (a) $300 donation. Fast forward to 2018, we’ve now raised over $733 million worldwide.”

The money goes to Special Olympics Alberta, giving the organization a financial boost to support various athletes across the province.

“This is one of the biggest fundraisers that we use. We use the money to go to winter games, to subsidize the athletes as far as fees go, so it’s always a great event even though it’s freezing,” said Virene French, chairperson of Special Olympics Lethbridge.

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The Polar Plunge is a thrilling event for many of the participants, but for the organizers, safety is top of mind.

READ MORE: Photos: Hundreds in Edmonton take the plunge for Special Olympics

“Lethbridge Fire Department is here. They’re always amazing for getting our hold in the ice as well as being our safety crew so they take care of us once we go into the water, helping us get out,” explained Victoria Rubiak, a Polar Plunge organizer.

“They are a great resource. If anything were to happen — thankfully, nothing has — but we take care of all those logistics to make sure we have a great, safe day.”

The Polar Plunge is an annual fundraising event that takes place across the country.

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