Members of Gananoque’s emergency services took an icy plunge in the St. Lawrence River Monday in support of the Special Olympics.
The Gananoque Police Service and the Gananoque Fire Service were “Freezin’ for a Reason” with their first-ever plunge Monday morning. The local fire and police services have been jointly raising funds for the Special Olympics Ontario with a Polar Plunge.
With life jackets and beach towels in tow, about nine members of the police and fire services, including both the Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief and Chief of Police, jumped into the river, according to Police Constable Dana Darlington.
The plunge into the river “was very cold,” said Darlington, who jumped in the water as well.
The virtual fundraising brought in more than $2,700 in support of Special Olympics Ontario, surpassing their goal of $1,000.
The Thousand Islands Trivia League donated a total of $1,000 in memory of Debbie Blair, a staff member with the Gananoque Police Service who recently died.
While the two emergency departments may have been fundraising for the same cause, they engaged in some friendly competition while doing so. The police raised a total of $1,830 and the fire department raised $735, according to the Polar Plunge website.
“I’m really happy with the amount we did raise,” said Darlington. “It was a fun jump. Although it was very cold, it was really exciting, and it was nice to do it with the fire department.”
The local fire department took the plunge and was also on hand to ensure everyone’s safety as members of the two emergency departments jumped off the dock into the cold water in – 8 C weather.
This year’s virtual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Ontario fundraiser was open from mid-February with donations being accepted until close to the end of March, with 35 days to celebrate 35 years of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, according to the Polar Plunge website.
The goal for the police service is to hold an annual Polar Plunge event in Gananoque in support of the Special Olympics, said Darlington.
“The game plan next year is to organize it early enough that we’ll be able to engage the community who want to do fundraising efforts on their own and they’ll be able to jump with us on the day of the event.”
All funds raised through the 2022 Virtual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics Ontario will support over 26,000 Special Olympics athletes across the province, said the Polar Plunge website.
(Jessica Munro is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Brockville Recorder and Times. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.)