A pandemic wasn’t going to stand in the way of an eight-year tradition, at least not for one Okanagan charity.
The annual Polar Bear Dip usually takes place at Kelowna’s Tugboat Bay with dozens of people splashing into Okanagan Lake on New Year’s Day, but this year due to COVID-19 things looked a little different.
To ring in 2021, the event went virtual with polar bear dippers raising money for the Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS).
CRIS works to enable outdoor urban-based experiences for people that require additional support, due to a variety of barriers such as physical, cognitive, or sensory challenges.
Dani Hennig, Manager of Partnerships with CRIS said, people got creative with their ‘freezing for a reason’ challenge. Some swam in the lake, others buried themselves in the snow with a shovel or snowblower, while several made snow angels or had buckets of ice water dumped on their heads.
Regardless of how they met the challenge those who took the pledge managed to raise $34,000.
Shelley Buchanan Gilmore the CEO and general manager of CRIS, said the fundraiser was key to the charity continuing to operate and offer equipment, training support and instruction for outdoor sport and recreation opportunities.
“We are currently offering guided and supported nordic skiing and snowshoeing programs in the North Okanagan and West Kelowna in an effort to get people outside safely this winter and to provide the support they need to remain healthy and promote positive mental health,” she said.