Gaetan Michaud lets out a yell after taking part in the Law Enforcement Run Polar Plunge on Dec. 29 outside the Coast High Country Inn in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Polar plunge raises money in low temperatures

$21,000 is going to support Special Olympics Yukon

More than 50 souls braved the relatively mild but still chilly weather Dec. 29 to take part in Whitehorse’s second annual Yukon Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge, raising $21,000 in support of Special Olympics Yukon.

The event required participants to pledge at least $100 each before taking a leap into a giant dumpster filled with frigid water. Plungers included Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis, city councillor Jan Stick, Community Services Minister John Streicker and a number of first-responders and law enforcement officers.

Special Olympics Yukon’s executive director Serge Michaud described the event as a great success, noting that the 2018 Polar Plunge attracted almost double the amount of plungers as the 2017 event, which raised $13,000.

“This community — if you look at it, $21,000 in pledges, our community is so giving and it humbles me every time to even talk about it,” Michaud said in an interview Jan. 2.

That many of the plungers were dressed in homemade superhero costumes was no coincidence.

“The story behind the superhero costumes is, our athletes look at law enforcement officers and those involved, you know, badge-wearing individuals, first responders, as superheros,” Michaud explained. “… I mean, they’ve never said, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re my superhero!’ That’d be very cliche. At the same time, you know, our athletes are like, ‘Yeah, absolutely, these guys do so much for us.’”

The funds will go towards supporting Special Olympics Yukon’s roughly 100 athletes, who Michaud said are busy year-round.

“Special Olympics isn’t just about the Games, it’s about weekly programming to help our athletes reach their sport goals,” he said, noting that there’s also a national invitational soccer tournament coming up in February and a team travelling down to Vernon, B.C., for the Special Olympics BC Winter Games the same month.

The Polar Plunge isn’t the only way that the Yukon Law Enforcement Torch Run supports Special Olympics Yukon, Michaud added — the organization also uses a pledge system when participating in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay to raise donations, and hosts fundraisers throughout the year like a “celebrity server” night at Boston Pizza.

The group raised nearly $50,000 for Special Olympics Yukon in 2017, Michaud said, and while the numbers for 2018 are still being tallied, with the success of the Polar Plunge, he’s confident that figure will be even higher this time around.

“They’ll be exceeding (the 2017 amount) for sure,” he said.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

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CKRW radio host Eddie Q does a belly flop during the Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Plunge. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

Jan Stick reacts to the cold water after her polar plunge. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

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