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WATCH: Red Deer polar plungers brave the cold for Special Olympics

Red Deer Advocate - 2/4/2018

As the polar plungers got out of the water, steam rose off their frigid bodies.

That was a testament to just how cold it was Saturday, as 13 brave men and women jumped into a pool of water when the windchill made the air feel like -31 C.

Before the plunge took place, organizers had to make sure the pool water didn't start to freeze.

"We're having trouble keeping the ice off of the water," said Kevin Duval, an event organizer and a municipal enforcement officer.

"It keeps freezing over on us."

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Held at the Bower-Kin Community Centre, the event was in support of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Alberta.

The inaugural polar plunge in Red Deer raised about $4,200 for the torch run.

Duval said it was a small field, but that the event is just starting and they hope it continues to grow.

"The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics is the largest grassroots fundraising and awareness campaign for Special Olympics in the world," said Duval. "This is how we attract attention to the cause, putting on big events like this."

Leading off the plunging was Korey Cleland, who had plunged once before in Calgary.

"It's a little bit crazy, now that it's -30 degrees outside," he said. "But I give to my community and plunging seems like fun.

"It's more of a mental game. Once you get through it, it's fine, it's just getting to the water."

Like all the other jumpers, he went from a warming tent set up near the Bower community rink, climbed up some scaffolding and jumped into a small pool adjacent to the parking lot. Three divers were already in the pool, ready to assist the plungers.

"It's inspiring to see everything come together for us today in terms of all the volunteers, athletes, emergency services and companies," said Duval.

"Every event has to start somewhere and we're looking forward to building the event further."

Other events the Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Alberta puts on in Red Deer includes the Free Our Finest, which is held in August and law enforcement members camp out on scaffolding in support of the cause; and the Cops and Crepes, held in the spring.

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