Polar bear dip helps African youth

Jan. 1 event at Kal Beach provides funds for the Zimbabwe Project

A dip in a cold lake will help a hot place.

Angela Yablonski, owner of Vernon Curves and founder of the Zimbabwe Project, is organizing a polar bear swim for Jan. 1 at Kal Beach as a fundraiser for her organization.

“Why not?” said Yablonski when asked why hold a polar bear swim as a fundraising event.

“We were looking for something different that nobody else was doing. I heard Vernon used to have a polar bear swim and it is something different and a great way to ring in the new year.”

Registration will begin Jan. 1 at 11:30 a.m. and the polar bear swim starts at 1 p.m.

The cost to enter is $5 for everyone and it’s open to all, although kids 12 and under that wish to take part must be accompanied by a parent.

Costumes are encouraged as prizes will be awarded to the top two costumed swimmers, and a prize will also be awarded to the person who raises the most money.

“We are asking people get sponsors sheets when they register,” said Yablonski.

Registration can be done online at www.zimbabweproject.com.

Prizes include $250 gift certificates from Parnell’s Appliance and Electronics and Huber’s Furniture, and a winter jacket courtesy of VantageOne Credit Union.

Kal Tire is providing a barbecue and Tim Horton’s will supply hot drinks.

Special guest swimmers for the event will include Yablonski, Robin Baycroft, of Sparkling Hill Resort, Suzie Bartlett, of Silver Star Mountain Resort and Peter Dorey, of Olympia Cycle.

All proceeds from the swim go to Yablonski’s Zimbabwe Project, which started as a feeding centre for orphans in a rural village in Zimbabwe.

Yablonski, with help from friends and family, then built an orphanage.

“I found that a lot of big organizations like to go in and build buildings so the Zimbabwe Project was created more for the people in Zimbabwe to create self-sustaining projects,” said Yablonski.

“We are just in process of starting 10 new self-sustaining projects in one area.”

Yablonski and another group will be heading to the African nation in May.