Feature Story                                                                                                     Monday, January 12, 2015


The Thrill of the Chill

Polar bear swim raises $3000 for BC Teen Challenge

Staff/Voice photos


About 100 people dared to dip at the BC Teen Challenge Polar Bear Plunge fundraiser.


s if it were a snapshot from a Farley Mowat book; wooden docks reaching out into the lake are painted with a thick ivory frost. Mist trails up from the water and vanishes as it touches the sunlight. Towering green sentinels hang on a chorus of gulls, their cries morph into the sounds of laughter from the shore.


Not everyone who signed up for the BC Teen Challenge 6th Annual Polar Bear Swim actually ran screaming into Cultus Lake New Year's morning, but rest assured, those who did, learned to sing like Mariah Carey in the -4C water.


This liquid fundraiser is for the Men's Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Centre located in Yarrow.


The Centre's Network coordinator Lance Marais told The Voice at the lake that they were hoping to have the same as last year, which is at least 100 registered swimmers, or more." He confirmed those numbers in an email last week.


As Network coordinator, Marais sees to all the events, arranging, fundraising, church bookings, and more.


"They just throw stuff on my desk," he said laughing.


The swim didn't start as a fundraiser. In 2009, a small handful of men in the program at the Yarrow Centre jumped off the dock, as a sort of christening. The Voice covered that event and we've been addicted to watching polar bear swims ever since.


"We raised just over $3,000, which is about the same as in 2014 and had 300-500 (registered supporters) again, I think just over 100 plungers, hard to count."


We want to make this into a community event and get people interested in actually sponsoring events, vendors to come out with some food. If we can do and just have a good family community event for Chilliwack. The have it in Vancouver, they have it all over the globe, so why not Chilliwack? said Marais.


We're asking people, 18 and older, to to pay $10 is they can and everybody under 18 can go free. But if you want to donate more than $10, absolutely fine, and even after the plunge, he said.


The money goes to help with operating costs and programs at the BC Teen Challenge Recovery Centre where people from 19-65 can find help for addiction.


Currently, around 40 people enrolled in program at their three operations; including 13 at Yarrow and the rest at the Winfield Centre in the Okanagan and at the Ladies Centre.


Local St. John Ambulance paramedics volunteered their time to be at the event.


For more information, visit www.bcteenchallenge.com 


See more photos below.



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