Islanders take to chilly April waters in support of Special Olympics


High winds, big crashing waves and a dust of morning snow didn’t stop Islanders from showing support for Special Olympics athletes in the province this weekend.

About 90 people took to the waters off Dalvay by the Sea on Sunday for the annual polar plunge put on by the The Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics, which raises money for things such as programs and travel costs for Island athletes.

“It was bitter cold. It was like knives sticking into your feet. It was that cold,” says Lynda Hontscharowicz.

“My brother is a special Olympian and we’ve been doing this for the last, oh my gosh, 12 years.”

Those who decided to take a frigid dip in the waters off the North Shore paid a fee with all of the money going toward funding for athletes.

Janet Bradshaw is a Special Olympics coach. She waded into the water for the seventh year in a row this weekend, but said she’s getting used to the feeling.

“I didn’t find it any worse than the other years,” she said. “The photographer one year was on an ice float taking the pictures.”

Over $23,000 has been raised so far from the event, organizers said.

“It offers so many opportunities for athletes to travel and experience things they’ve never, ever had the chance to do before. It’s awesome,” Bradshaw said.

Janet Bradshaw, left, and Lynda Hontscharowicz were quick to get thier jackets on after coming out of the water. (Tony Davis/CBC)

Const. Kristi MacKay, chair of The Law Enforcement Torch Run, was in the water twice Sunday, once with her Charlottetown Police colleagues and once with a friend.

She said the surf was aggressive, so a ground search and rescue team was on scene in dry suits to help out with any potential issues.

Some might think taking a dip in the water in April isn’t quite a polar dip, but MacKay disagrees.

Some might think taking a dip in the water in April isn’t quite a polar dip, but Const. Kristi MacKay, chair of The Law Enforcement Torch Run, disagrees. (Tony Davis/CBC)

“Lots of people give you the gears about it,” she said. “But I’m telling you it’s cold. I am freezing. I can hardly even speak here … it’s two degrees with a minus temperature this morning, we had snow when we woke up this morning. It’s cold.”

To ensure as much physically distancing as possible the dip was broken into 15 teams, with each team entering and exiting the water at different times.

MacKay said for those who didn’t want to “brave the conditions” they have until the end of the month to participate virtually.

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