Last March, police flagged an email with the subject line, “48 hours till I die,” thinking they might have a possible suicide attempt on their hands. But, Kirk De Fazio, president and CEO of Special Olympics Alberta and author of the email, was just trying to grab people’s attention, making reference to his participation in the first Polar Plunge in Edmonton. Luckily, Const. Amanda Trenchard, who regularly volunteers for Special Olympics Alberta events, recognized his name and knew there was nothing to worry about.
The email, which De Fazio sent to friends and family, earned him another $1,200 to put towards his participation in the now-annual fundraising event thrown by Alberta Law Enforcement Torch Run, an organization which includes RCMP, sheriffs and the Edmonton Police Service (EPS).The plunge raises awareness and funds for Special Olympics Alberta. A two-foot section of ice was cut out of Lake Summerside on March 24, 2012, allowing brave Special Olympics staff, EPS members, and the general public to jump into the 1C water.
The 2012 event raised more than $10,000 for Edmonton and Alberta Special Olympics athletes to participate in training, purchase equipment, and travel internationally. That includes 11 athletes who flew to South Korea to compete in the Special Olympics World Games, which began January 29. Trenchard also flew to South Korea as one of the 100 police members from around the world honoured with the task of carrying the torch to the games.
Shortly after, Trenchard flies back for this year’s Polar Plunge, taking place at Lake Summerside February 9. “This year, my goal is to have 100 people jump,” says Trenchard, who shrugged off her own dip last year as nothing worse than what she went through in police training.
De Fazio, who likened the experience to having his chest encased in a frozen vault, still asks that people take the challenge for the athletes. “In professional sports, like the NHL, it’s all about the contract and what they get. [Special Olympics’] athletes ask you for nothing. They’re so grateful.”
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Considering many professional athletes fight tooth-and-nail for unbelievable salaries, freezing for athletes ecstatic over $10,000 is an easy idea to warm up to.