A freezing cold swim in January helps children in a warmer climate on the other side of the world.
The annual event on Jan. 1 raises funds for the Zimbabwe Project Canada (ZPC), which supports hundreds of orphaned children through self sustaining projects in rural Zimbabwe.
“The Polar Bear Swim is becoming a major fundraiser to support the ZPC work in the rural communities of Zimbabwe,” said Bobbi-Jo Gordon, event coordinator. “In order to involve the entire Vernon community we asked students to enter a drawing competition depicting Zimbabwe, the Polar Bear Swim or both.
More than 1,000 elementary students at four local schools took part, with the best drawing chosen and made into a button to be given to registrants who are taking the plunge in the Polar Bear Swim.
“This is a remarkable increase from last year. Due to the large number of students participating, prizes were awarded for first, second and third place,” said Gordon. “The prizes are fun and motivating for the kids to participate, but most important, this event helps children in the Vernon community understand how children, families and those less fortunate than themselves live in other parts of the world.
“This activity ties in perfectly with elements of leadership, community support and global awareness.”
As well, Harwood elementary school students Vida Chisholm and Mickey Fedirchuk took it upon themselves to organize their own fundraiser after learning about the plight of children in Zimbabwe. During two lunch hours, they sold cupcakes, cookies and popcorn, and raised $128.50 for the project.
“Together, Vida and Mickey are making a difference,” said Gordon. “On behalf of the Zimbabwe Project Canada we thank you for your leadership and generous efforts.”
Kidston elementary school student Ceanna Niemi took home first place in the contest and was asked what she would do with her $100 gift certificate from Attridge.
“First, to buy gifts for my family and friends and if there is money left over I’ll buy something for myself,” she said.
Second place went to Coldstream student Elena Schimann; third place to Harwood student Jaden Scott and honourable mentions went to Thea Yermealen, Natalie Houle, Ava Vest, all from Coldstream elementary.
Gordon expressed her thanks to the generous donors in the community who helped to make the contest a success.
“Attridge has been a generous supporter of the Polar Bear Swim, providing prizes the kids will enjoy,” she said. “Second place prize is a family pass to Tube Town at Silver Star Mountain Resort.
“Again, Silver Star Mountain has continuously supported the event and to help make it happen. Third place prize is a one- hour horseback trail ride at Okanagan Horseback in Enderby — Lynda and Dave Flato have newly started their trail riding business in Enderby and have donated gift certificates continuously.”
This year’s Polar Bear Swim takes place Jan. 1 at Kal Beach, with registration at 11:30 a.m. and the swim at 1 p.m. For those who don’t want to take the plunge, there will be plenty of entertainment along with a barbecue, and prizes to be won in a number of categories, including for most number of sponsors collected and best costume.