Wednesday, January 8, 2013
In the Swim!
Challenge makes a big splash, raises a truckload of money with
Swimmers take off from the shore of
Cultus Lake in the BC Teen Challenge Polar Bear Swim on New Year's
a difference a year makes.
Last Wednesday, a few hundred people lined the shores and docks of
Cultus Lake to watch about 120 registered Neptunians run, wade and
otherwise fall into the water at the First Annual BC Teen Challenge
(BCTC) Polar Bear Swim.
BCTC Network coordinator
Lance Marais told the Voice in an e-mail this week that they
managed to raise an astounding $3380.
Previous swims were just
warm-ups for the Christian-based drug rehabilitation centre. Every
January 1, the guys from the Yarrow centre manned-up for a dip in
the frigid lake. Huge fun.
2014, aquatic celebrants got off easy with the temperature a balmy
4°C. In previous first mornings it's been much, much colder.
Last year, realizing that Chilliwack didn't have it's own Polar Bear
Swim and that they have a constant need for funding, Pastor Darrell
Lahay decided to do a public fundraising event.
According to Lahay, it was
the right thing to do and the community responded in droves to
support the event.
"We're so surprised to see this many people here. We're overwhelmed
with the response," Lahay told the Voice at the lake. "So
many people responded to our newspaper articles and posters around
town and this is time that we decided to go big and make it a
There was tee shirt sales
and hot dogs all to help the cause.
"We've got a lot of
community groups and businesses helping us and partnering with us.
We've got Janet Development here cooking hot dogs and it's a great
feel. Everybody's here, the weather's not too chilly and some people
are happy about that," he said.
Pretty good for a first annual Polar
Bear outing at Cultus Lake in support of BC Teen Challenge.
Safety was paramount issue for Lahay.
"Our whole goal is to make this event fun, safe and organized, and
show these people that they can help make a difference in the
community, that they're giving to a good cause," explained Lahay.
"We have a lot of people on site just to kind of keep an eye on
things, for instance St. John Ambulance is here."
This year, people were asked to enter the water off of the beach,
unlike in previous years when they plunged in off the frost-covered
Sure Polar Bear Swims are fun, but there is a serious side to BCTC,
and what the community may not know is that their program has one of
the highest success rates in the world. But it's not without effort
for the sixteen men currently enrolled in the program.
"Not all the students make it though, it's a real tough program.
It's rigorous and challenging," said Lahay.
"Probably about a good 60-70 per cent of the guys who come graduate
and move on to many years of success."
"We get new intakes all the time. We have a couple more guys coming
in the new year here and the holidays were a great time," concluded
The best thing of all about
the polar bear swim?
Sixteen men got to see a community backing them.
• Listen to the countdown
• See also some Voice
photos from previous years on Google Images
• Connect with BC Teen
Challenge online at
(c) 2013 The Valley Voice
Thanks for looking.