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Frigid April Fools for Polar Dip fundraiser

Mike Oliver and Jan Peddle were among those who took part in the frigid Polar Dip. – © René J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press

By René J. Roy

Editor-in-Chief

PORT AUX BASQUES – Megan Bateman is the Executive Director of the Gateway Status of Women Council. She came to her role recently and hails from Yellowknife where, “Everyone would jump in the water at a moments notice, even in minus 30, so I figured why cant we do it here?”

That morphed into the Pink Shirt Day Polar Dip Fundraiser. The initial date was postponed due to weather, but on April Fools Day, roughly a dozen brave souls ran willingly into and even faster out of the frigid North Atlantic at Grand Bay West beach, all to raise funds for the Gateway centre’s programs. The weather that day was a balmy 2 degrees, but with mist and 70 kp/h winds, it certainly felt closer to minus 10.

“We don’t have our official total,” admitted Bateman, “but just before we got here we calculated and we are roughly over halfway to our official goal of $1,500. We have over $800.”

The funds will be used for violence prevention programs, and skills and outreach programs.

Just before the plunge, Nikita Roberts sat in her truck, evidently rethinking her decision to run into the icy water.

“I’m *** bricks,” she laughed, despite admitting to fear.

This was the first time Roberts participated in a Polar Dip. The fundraiser was a great motivator for her to jump in.

“It’s for a good cause. And I kind of always wanted to do it to be honest.”

Jan Peddle is with the College of the North Atlantic and he stood ready in his swim shorts, along with a couple of students, ready to brave the ocean.

“I think it’s for a great cause. The Gateway Centre does such amazing work in the area. A lot of it goes unnoticed.”

The college raised $350 for the event.

When Bateman stood on the beach and made the call to get in the water, not a single person moved.

It took almost half a minute for one young man to take off his shirt and shoes, and run along the wet sand to motivate the other participants.

“I’m not doing this alone!” he yelled.

That seemed to spark brief moments of bravery, as all of the dippers ran, some quite reluctantly, waist high into the frigid surf.

Laughter, along with colourful exclamations of how absolutely freezing the water was, could be heard from 90 feet away on the sands, before everyone ran back to their towels, clothes and trucks, as quickly as they could.

Reflecting later on social media, Nikita Roberts summed up her thoughts quite nicely.

“Almost got hypothermia, but also scored a new hat. Great success!”

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