Sunday January 2, 2010

The Joe Report


Crazy Cool!

Polar Bear plungers brr-ring in the New Year and put the "Freeze on Addiction"

                                                                                                                                          Joe Reporter


                                                                                                                                          Voice photos

A Polar Bear swimmer gasps as he bobs to the surface Saturday in Cultus Lake .

magine you're taking a long sip from a slurpee and getting brain freeze. Next, imagine dog paddling in it.

That's what it was like Saturday morning in the -3C temperature at Cultus Lake for the 8th Annual Teen Challenge Polar Bear Swim.

Somewhere between 20-25 people, some wearing not much more than shorts and a smile, plunked, dunked and dipped their way into frigid Cultus Lake using a variety of different tactics and they all made it in. Some were hesitant, while some attacked. Some held hands hoping for the best, while others sort of just sort of fell or tippy-toed their way in.

Polar Bear Swimming is one of those sports like bungee jumping where its a lot more fun watching than participating in. Unless, of course Cineplex Galaxy Theater has something else in store for Chilliwack.

Each year, Sean Sabourin, who is the Director of the Chilliwack Men's Center for BC Teen Challenge, coordinates the "Putting The Freeze On addiction" New Year's swim in Chilliwack.

The Centre in Yarrow, treats both men and women between the ages of 18-45 in a one-year residential addiction program.

Sabourin, also a pastor, is not unlike Father Flanagan with an iron handshake and big voice. He also offers sanctuary and guidance to wayward youth in his Centre as did Boys Town in Omaha, Nebraska.

Sabourin, also a pastor, is not unlike the cogent Father Flanagan with his iron handshake and sonorous voice. And like the iconic father, he too offers sanctuary and guidance to wayward youth at his Centre in Yarrow, just as Boys Town did in Omaha, Nebraska back in 1927.

"We've been doing this now for eight-years and we wanted to make a little bit more public awareness about addiction and we came up with this idea about putting the freeze on addiction," said Sabourin. "We promoted it through my website and just through different people that we are in contact with and see just bring about some more interest in Teen Challenge," he said.

Sabourin said that so far the annual swim event has been a casual tradition and that no one was pledged to see how long they could stay in or anything like that. "It's more of an awareness event this year than a fundraiser'" he said.

"Some people have donated," he said. However Sabourin didn't want people to feel as though they're obliged to donate if they show up at Main Beach. The group's primary objective was just for people to come down and have some fun with it.

When they do raise money the proceeds go to the Chilliwack Men's Centre. The facility in Yarrow does continual intake with 6 staff for the 15 clients in their one-year residential program.

"It's to help people. The men that live with us are 19-45 and they have life-controlling addictions.

Vedder Elementary teacher Linda Follack said it was always something she wanted to try.

"I heard about this through 98.3 Starfm radio station and I thought 'okay, I'm going to do this'. So here I am," she declared, obviously excited about the new adventure she was about to embark on.

"Last year I saw a whole bunch of people doing it and wished I'd done it then because it was probably about 8C. Today it's about -5C," she said excitedly.

After her abbreviated dip, Follack said it wasn't the water that was the coldest part.

"Yeah, the water wasn't so bad actually. The worst part is my feet which are frozen right now from standing on that wood."

One Rastafarian-haired polar bear said it was one of the "dumbest things" he's done for a while and that thinking the plunge just made it worse.

"Try to think the least amount as possible before you go in. You start thinking and that's when things always go wrong."

Don't worry, be happy mon.

See the photos below.

Copyright (c) 2010 The Valley Voice













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