Taking the icy ‘plunge’ to help others
Seven-year-old Hallee Nugent, likely the youngest jumper to have ever participated in the annual “Polar Plunge” here, leapt into the icy waters of Sand Bay on New Year’s Day in support of World Vision and to help change the lives of families in countries where poverty and injustice are prominent.
And of the 65 people who raised more than $12,000 during this year’s event, organized once again by the local Voyageur Lions Club, Nugent was the top individual fundraiser, bringing in $1,000 and earning her the grand prize of a Samsung home theatre sound system from Leon’s.
“My mom and dad talk about World Vision—we have a foster kid—and I just wanted to help them.”
Knowing someone who had jumped before, Nugent thought it was something she could try.
“I’m not scared,” she had said before taking the plunge. Afterwards, the only way to describe her experience was “cold.”
“We’re very proud of her,” remarked her father, Dr. Robert Nugent.
“She made up her own mind,” he stressed. “She just suddenly said, ‘I’m going to jump.’”
Her dad and grandfather helped gather pledges by taking the form to the local clinic and Fort Frances General Supply, where people made donations.
Nugent also sold some of her own art to family members to help raise some of the funds.
She will use the money—half of the proceeds she raised—to purchase items for those in need from the World Vision gift catalogue.
Meanwhile, several other people also jumped on behalf of organizations focused on helping others.
Best friends and first-time participants Bryanna Dustin and Madison Morrison jumped on behalf of KidSport and raised $496.50.
“We just wanted to help kids to afford to buy equipment and play any sport they want,” Morrison explained, adding they had come out and watched the “Polar Plunge” in past years and thought they could do it, too.
And they did—but are unsure whether they’ll take part in the icy plunge again next year.
“It was pretty cold,” Dustin remarked.
Jumping for Canadian Lutheran World Relief, Rev. Jacob Quast and his son, Liam, raised $420 on Sunday.
“It’s an organization that is an off-shoot from our church,” noted Rev. Quast, who took the plunge for the fourth time and Liam for the third time.
He said the organization carries out a broad range of programs, including emergency relief and refugee resettlement, with the goal of making life better for those in need.
“It’s a very worthwhile cause,” he stressed, though adding he also enjoys supporting the Voyageur Lions Club, whose focus is helping children and youth.
“They do a lot of great work.”
Another first-time jumper, Lions Club member Wayne Lundstrom, decided to take the plunge this year because he wanted to support the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, which provides dog guides to people with disabilities.
Lundstrom, who is visually impaired, had received a dog guide in 2010 although a few months later, the two-year-old black Labrador retriever was not doing her job and had to return to Southern Ontario.
He will be getting a new dog guide from the organization in April.
“It was an eye-opener,” Lundstrom said about his dip in the lake.
He was helped by Bill Michl, who assisted him with practice jumps into the pool.
“I also did a cold shower test,” Lundstrom added. “It’s not quite the same, but it wasn’t such a shock.”
Lundstrom, who raised $285, hopes to jump again next year but would like to bring in more money for the cause.
Of the 65 people who raised money for the 2012 “Polar Plunge,” about 50 of them were brave enough to jump into the icy waters in front of a crowd of spectators who gathered on the dock behind La Place Rendez-Vous.
“It was a chilly day—the wind was quite fierce,” noted club member Val Martindale.
“But the jumpers seemed not to notice,” she remarked. “Perhaps they were too intent on the waiting water.
“All in all, it was a great success,” Martindale added, although noting the numbers of jumpers and money raised both were down slightly from last year.
“What a great way to start the New Year.”
The top group fundraiser was the Muskie Sports Association, raising $2,240, with jumpers comprised of students from the different Fort High teams.
Junior girls’ volleyball players Hannah McLeod, Cassandra Moffitt, Maryam Seid, Celia Berry, Sarah Bagacki, and Sierra Cousineau raised $772.
Senior girls’ volleyball players Caitlin Sande, Chantal Jodoin, Alanna Walsh, Erika Moffitt, and Emily Drouin raised $355.
Meanwhile, Muskie curlers Cole Turcotte, Hailey Beaudry, Karleigh Wright, Luke Esselink, and Reece Jones jumped for $785 while generally for the MSA, Will Anderson, Jason Cain, and Keira Lindgren raised $350.
The Muskie girls’ hockey team, along with supporter Jake Clendenning, brought in $1,984.
Dancemakers was next, raising $1,023, with Kassidy LeDrew, Kailey Croswell, Hailey Wirtz, Maighyn DeGagne, Taylor Shouldice, and Danielle Hammond taking the icy plunge.
Raising money for a high school art trip to Greece, FFHS teacher Owen Johnston and students Ben Tysz, Jilayne Derksen, Sam Alexander, Katja Sutherland, and Emily Brown jumped for $809.67.
Johnston braved the waters a second time, jumping with Kiela Ford for $240 for the FFHS Travel Club’s trip to France and England during March Break.
Maureen Hahkala, dressed as the “Super Mario” this year, raised $523 for the Rainy River District Festival for the Performing Arts while local MP John Rafferty raised $60 for Special Olympics.
Kent Ogden and Dennis Ogilvie plunged for the Emo and District Lions Club, raising $800. Meanwhile, Jim Martindale, Dale Gill, Michl, and Lundstrom combined to raise $2,805 for the local Voyageur Lions.
Hahkala was the second-highest individual fundraiser, behind Nugent, while Morrison, LeDrew, DeGagne, and Tysz each took home $50 gift certificates from Canadian Tire for raising more than $300.
Hahkala, who last year dressed as “The Cat in the Hat,” once again took first place for best individual costume.
Other winners were Nugent and Rafferty.
A group costume prize was awarded to the FFHS art trippers, who were dressed as Greeks in anticipation of their upcoming trip.