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Island officers take icy dive to support Special Olympics

#Plunge4SOBC raises vital funds to support athletes with intellectual disabilities
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Members of the Saanich Police Department take a chilly dip during the 2023 Vancouver Island Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC. (Black Press Media file photo)

In what has become a late-winter tradition, law enforcement and other first responders don their gear to take a chilly dip in the waters of Saanich to raise cash for Special Olympians in the province.

Joined by support staff, philanthropic residents and several Special Olympics BC (SOBC) athletes, the #Plunge4SOBC raises vital funds to help rebuild the empowering year-round sport, youth and health programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

“I believe these athletes are the epitome of strength they show unconditional sportsmanship and perseverance. And I have gained valuable knowledge and friendships over the years,” said Saanich Const. Lisa Bruschetta, a 20-year supporter of SOBC.

“The plunge gives our athletes an opportunity to grow, to learn how to speak in public. If you watch closely, you will see that each athlete brings a special gift to the plunge. Their cheers, their laughter, their medals. Some stand alongside of their athlete friend as a support when they speak. It’s what a true team is. They never have an ‘I’ statement. It’s always a ‘we’. I’m so proud to watch their successes.”

RELATED: Oak Bay hosts inaugural Vancouver Island Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC

Bruschetta is among the Vancouver Island Polar Plunge organizers for Special Olympics BC, spreading the word about how important inclusion is in sports. Bruschetta won the inaugural B.C. Law Enforcement Torch Run Award in 2022. The run and a Free the Fuzz event in Saanich round out the three big SOBC fundraisers for the Island.

The Polar Plunge is the top fundraising initiative on Vancouver Island, raising about $330,000 last year.

The event generally draws about 200 dippers and 200 people enjoying the show.

While wave after wave of plungers run into, then dart out of, the chilly waters of Cadboro Bay, some SOBC athletes will hang out in the water.

And, of course, there are always friendly challenges between teams or individuals as officers and other first responders from Greater Victoria traditionally take part.

“It’s fun to watch and listen to the banter. All in all it is just a wonderful, fun day to bring people together and dance, sing, plunge and well, freeze. For a great reason,” Bruschetta said

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Special Olympics BC provides training and competitive opportunities in 18 sports across 55 communities to thousands of athletes of all ages and abilities.

The Vancouver Island Polar Plunge for Special Olympics B.C. is Sunday (Feb. 18), at Saanich’s Cadboro-Gyro Park. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 10:45 a.m., with the plunge starting 15 minutes later.

Visit plunge4specialolympics.crowdchange.ca/54080 to register or support a team.

RELATED: Oak Bay hosts inaugural Vancouver Island Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC



Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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