A bear mascot jumps in the water at the 2020 Polar Plunge in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of Torch Run for Special Olympics Ontario - Chatham-Kent via @Facebook)A bear mascot jumps in the water at the 2020 Polar Plunge in Chatham. (Photo courtesy of Torch Run for Special Olympics Ontario - Chatham-Kent via @Facebook)

Polar Plunge goes virtual for 2021

The Freezin' for a Reason Polar Plunge is coming back to Chatham-Kent, but it will look very different this year.

While participants would normally meet up and jump into an ice-cold pool of water, the event will be done virtually in 2021 due to pandemic restrictions.

According to Chatham-Kent Police Constable Jason Herder, the concept will overall be the same with a few key differences. The main difference is that anyone who registers is encouraged to upload a video on social media of them doing their own 'plunge.'

As always, any money fundraised by participants will benefit Special Olympics Ontario.

"Where it's also the same is we encourage everyone to go out and fundraise and get people to donate to their campaign," said Herder. "There are still fundraising levels and swag that’s given out for certain fundraising levels. $100 of fundraising gets you the 2021 polar plunge long sleeve shirt. If you raise $500 you get the 2021 polar plunge Yeti."

Anyone who uploads a plunge video is asked to use the hashtag #PlungeON. Ideas include taking a cold shower, filling a bathtub with ice cubes, jumping in a pool or running through a sprinkler outside.

According to Herder, there will also be an award for the most creative plunge video.

“Once you sign up for your virtual plunge we encourage you to get creative in doing a Polar Plunge," he explained. "Whether it be at home, or outside. Obviously, we encourage everyone to be safe in whatever creative method they choose.”

Normally different regions host their own individual plunge. However, this year will be a joint effort across the province. Herder said there's still a chance to make sure the money raised stays local.

“Everyone who signs up has the opportunity to put in what local Special Olympics group that they want their fundraising dollars to support. When it's all said and done, if I raise $100, that $100 has been earmarked to go to that local organization," Herder explained. "While all of our totals will cumulate in a provincial total, we can still direct each individual plunger where they want their fundraising dollars to go.”

In 2020, the Chatham-Kent Polar Plunge raised $46,310. According to Herder, the municipality has been in the top five fundraisers across the province for the past two years.

"Obviously we’d love to hit that number again," he said. "We do understand, COVID is trying times on everyone. I think that every dollar we raise this year, even if that number wasn’t where we were before, I think it means more just given the trying times."

The event runs throughout the month of February. Registration is $30 and can be done on the Polar Plunge website.

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