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PHOTOS: Surrey RCMP, firefighters, athletes brave icy waters in support of Special Olympics

Polar Plunge event benefits programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities

A South Surrey effort to boost Special Olympics athletes has raised thousands of dollars.

Culminating on the Semiahmoo Peninsula with a chilly dip Saturday (Feb. 25) in the waters off Crescent Beach, the annual Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC inspired Surrey RCMP officers, firefighters, BC Lions, Special Olympians and more to brave the ice-cold waves, with some even racing into the water in uniform.

Shortly before taking the plunge, Supt. Aaron Paradis, Community Services Officer, said supporting the multiple programs offered through Special Olympics BC is “just an incredible piece” of the effort.

“Today is certainly a cold one that we’re braving. But, the part that’s gonna warm us up, certainly is, it warms you up to see our Special Olympians and all of the programs that it supports.”

Helping Special Olympics BC rebuild programming that was impacted by the pandemic was a key focus for event organizers this year.

READ MORE: Surrey RCMP aiming to raise $7,500 through ‘Polar Plunge’

Paradis said Team Surrey RCMP far exceeded its initial goal to raise $2,500, surpassing $8,000.

Funds raised will help support sport, youth and health programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

Clem Andrews, a head coach for a Special Olympics basketball program in Surrey for the past 15 years, said tournaments, uniforms and facility rentals are among costs that donations help cover.

“All that helps to keep that going and none of it goes to any of us volunteers,” he said.

Andrews described the athletes as “family.”

Paradis said it “100 per cent” meant a lot to participate.

“It’s that interaction that we have with the Olympics, with the Special Olympians,” he said. “That is just such a heartwarming thing. I can’t even measure that impact.

“For me personally, seeing the smiles on their faces, it’s just unbelievable.”

Polar Plunge events are taking place through March 5. To donate, visit

- with files from Anna Burns
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Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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