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Polar Plunge fundraiser draws big crowd (10 photos)

Polar Plunge event to raise money for Special Olympics far exceeds its goal

They were getting wet and cold for all the right reasons Saturday afternoon at the University of Guelph.

A steady stream of participants made their way outside Creelman Hall where a large and chilly pool of water awaited those wanting to take part in the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics.

The event was a fundraiser for the 2016 Special Olympics Ontario Spring Games that are being held in Guelph May 26-28.

Organizer Chris Probst of the Guelph Police said the turnout, and the money raised, far exceeded expectations.

The initial goal for the event was to raise $20,000.

"This is way better than expected. It's incredible," said Probst, thankful for the sunny and not-too-cold day that brought out a lot of people who hadn't pre-registered for the event.

"You've got to love Guelph. I couldn't even begin to tell you what the final count is, but I do know that pre-registration we were in around the $29,000 mark and that didn't include the people just walking in.

"We definitely surpassed our goal and then some. It's a very successful event."

Several prominent locals led off the plunge, with Guelph Police Chief Jeff DeRuyter sporting a turn-of-the-century bathing suit and straw hat, Mayor Cam Guthrie using an inflatable toy while holding a GoPro camera, MP Lloyd Longfield wearing a tie and Waterloo Region Police Chief Bryan Larkin wearing full uniform.

"It was better than I thought it was going to be. I could actually have stayed in there for a while longer, it wasn't that bad," said DeRuyter of the pool, where a pre-dip measurement had the temperature at 1 C.

"Very refreshing and for a great cause," said Darren Drake, part of the AMJ Campbell team that took part Saturday. "It was pretty cold. It was definitely cold."


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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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