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'Freezin' for reason': Police chief ready for the Polar Plunge

GSPS Chief Paul Pedersen says annual fundraiser for Special Olympics hits the ice of Ramsey Lake on March 4

They're ready to be "freezin' for a reason".

That's how Greater Sudbury Police Service (GSPS) Chief Paul Pedersen described his plan to take part in the annual Sudbury Polar Plunge in support of the Special Olympics.

The event is planned to take place on March 4 at the Northern Water Sports Centre beside the Ramsey Lake boat launch. A promotional news conference to raise awareness of the event was held at the centre Tuesday morning to explain how organizers are preparing to cut a hole in the ice so people can come and jump in the lake.

The Sudbury Polar Plunge is one of several such fun events taking place this spring in cities and towns across Canada. Pedersen explained the event is held to benefit Special Olympics Ontario, which is the charity of choice for the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

Pedersen said the plunge is a popular annual event that requires a lot of work from the organizers and volunteers to actually prepare the site at Ramsey Lake and cut a big hole in the ice to accommodate all the participants.

Sudburians are encouraged to visit Greater Sudbury Polar Plunge website to register and make a financial pledge.

Pedersen said the polar plunge took a back seat for the past two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic — though he said he and some others jumped into the lake from his own dock to keep the tradition alive — but now that the event is public again, Pedersen said he is hoping for a lot of support.

"The last year we were able to do the plunge with a large group, we raised over $30,000 alone right here in Sudbury. So we're really hoping this year as we come out of the pandemic, we're going to raise even more," Pederson said.

"I promise you, I will be plunging into the frigid waters right out there," the chief said pointing at the ice on Lake Ramsey.

Pedersen said there was a valid reason for supporting Special Olympics. 

"Because research has shown that individuals with intellectual disabilities who participate in Special Olympics programs are 49 per cent less likely to develop depression compared to non-participants. You guys feel happier when you're doing sport, right? Everybody does. And Special Olympics relies on these fundraising initiatives to support the program."

Also speaking Tuesday was GSPS Sgt. Hally Willmott, one of the organizers, who said much of the success of the event is due to the many people and volunteers who work behind the scenes and work so hard. At the same time, Willmott issued a challenge to the education sector in Sudbury.

"I am going to put a challenge out there to all of the school boards and all of the administrators that are out there. I would like to see them challenge each other to jump in," said Willmott. 

“I have jumped in twice and lived; so you know that you can do it. I also want to challenge some of our members internally to take the plunge. There are a lot of community supports out there that I'll be reaching out to today and asking them as well to go out and take the plunge.”

Sudbury's Lynn Houle, the vice-community co-ordinator at Special Olympics Sudbury, told the crowd she was happy to see the Polar Plunge event returning after two years in the background.

"We are thrilled and chilled for this return of the annual Polar Plunge taking place on March 4," said Houle.

"It is certainly a frosty way to raise awareness and fundraise for athletes seeing the plungers in their costume, their cheerful spirits and creative jumps. It is certainly the highlight of our Our winter, on behalf of the athletes and volunteers, thank you to those involved organizing this event.”

Len Gillis covers mining and health care for

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Len Gillis

About the Author: Len Gillis

Graduating from the Journalism program at Canadore College in the 1970s, Gillis has spent most of his career reporting on news events across Northern Ontario with several radio, television and newspaper companies. He also spent time as a hardrock miner.
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