In an atmosphere that was as festive as it was polar, more than 200 people – including several public figures – jumped on Saturday as part of the 15 with an intellectual disability.
Updated yesterday at 10:06pm.
For the 15th year in a row, dozens of police officers, politicians, athletes and citizens raised funds for the Polar Bear Challenge. On Saturday they found themselves in Lachine, west Montreal, where a hole had been drilled in the ice to make way for the black waters of the St. Lawrence River. The goal: jump all at once, catch your breath, get back out and raise funds for Special Olympics Quebec – which supports athletes with intellectual disabilities.
After two years of pandemic, in which the challenge was taken up virtually, the reunion took place in a festive atmosphere.
“Let’s assume we’re not afraid of getting wet,” laughed Ian Lafrenière, CAQ’s Minister for Relations with First Nations and Inuit, just before the event. For the former Service de Police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) officer, it’s not the first dip in the Lachine Canal.
This time he also convinced French Language Minister Jean-François Roberge to join him for the first time, as did Huntingdon MP Carole Mallette.
“It was a shock, I didn’t think I had water on my head! ‘ Mr. Roberge was surprised at the end of his dive in the early afternoon. Dressed in a soaked suit, still in shock, he grabbed a glass of steaming soup and headed into the heated cabin. Did he like the experience? “I would do it again next year! ‘ he assured.
“We are here for our champions”
Liberal MP for Marquette – the horseback riding that Lachine is in – Enrico Ciccone was also back for the event. “We are here for our champions! ‘ he argued in his speech at the water’s edge.
Fady Dagher, who has just taken office as Director General of the SPVM, expressly emphasized the importance of police officers being present for “all communities”. “It’s a pleasure for me to do this,” said the man who first took the plunge as chief of the Longueuil metropolitan police department. ” Young people [avec une déficience intellectuelle] are a wealth for all,” he said.
Among the dozens of participants in the challenge are five young Special Olympics athletes at the rendezvous. “I have fever! ‘ said Jessica Larivée, medalist in alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and track and field. She was selected to compete in the Special Olympics Winter Games in Saguenay in March. She also recently found out that she will be going to Special Worlds in Berlin in the summer of 2023.
When Ms. Larivée participates for the first time, other athletes present are used to these dives. Such is the case of Peter Yong, 33, a snowshoe hiker and hockey player who has been diving in ice water every year for the past 10 years. “I do it to be bold and have fun. It’s party time! ‘ he enthuses.
Actor Guy Jodoin was also on hand for his first-ever ice bath to support his son Léandre, who works for the Sûreté du Québec in Saint-Sauveur with the Laurentians.
“I’m thinking about my dad a lot right now,” Mr Jodoin said just before stepping on the ice, explaining that volunteering is a value passed from father to son in his family. “I’m glad to see my boy is in there now. »
Too thin ice this year
Lachine District Mayor Maja Vodanovic reported that the challenge for this edition was almost canceled due to thin ice at the usual location near Saint Joseph Boulevard in ancient China.
Sufficient thickness was eventually found at the new Lachine Waterfront Park on the Chemin des Iroquois.
A record $91,500 was raised for this edition of the Challenge in Montreal. In addition, 220 participants took to the water in 57 different jump waves.