Pembroke polar bear dip Feb. 4
Celina Ip / Daily Observer City of Pembroke councillor and Handi-Bus boardmember Christine Reavie anxiously eyes the frigid water at the Pembroke Marina before taking a daring plunge for the 2017 Polar Bear Dip. She is expected to repeat the feat at this year's fundraiser, being held Sunday, Feb. 4.
It’s nearly time to take the plunge in Pembroke.
The countdown is on to the fifth annual Polar Bear Dip for Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Handi-Bus, which takes place Sunday, Feb. 4 at 11 a.m. sharp at the Pembroke Marina, and organizers are seeking brave and adventurous souls to take part.
Ron Gervais, chairman of the Friends of the Disabled Inc. board of directors, the organization behind the Handi-Bus, said after moving the event to Saturday last year, they decided to return it to Sunday, so as to not compete with the downtown road hockey tournament, which happened Saturday, Feb. 3.
"Once again, we're encouraging people to sign up and take part in our signature event," he said. There will be a minimum $40 pledge to take part.
Gervais said emergency personnel such as the Pembroke Fire Department will be on hand to ensure everyone's safety. The firefighters are well trained in ice water rescue, and will be equipped in case they are needed.
This year, the dip will take place in the marina basin, with organizers expecting to cut through 16 inches of ice to get to the water.
Gervais said the money raised this year will go towards the $70,000 to $80,000 cost to purchase a new bus-like vehicle, to replace the oldest of their four-vehicle fleet.
The Polar Bear Dip has remained a favourite of the city's SnoSpree winter carnival for a dozen years before going on hiatus in 2013. After a year’s pause, it returned.
The Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Handi-Bus has been on the road for nearly 30 years, faithfully serving Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Township. It provides accessible transportation to clients with mobility issues, due to either a physical disability or a developmental disability, and keeps afloat thanks to donations, fundraising and funding from local municipalities.
In 2017, the Handi-Bus provided 8,820 trips for residents living in Pembroke and Laurentian Valley Township, travelling more than 65,000 kms with no accidents or incidents. The group provided transportation for 2,966 clients in either manual or electric wheelchairs or scooters, and 5,854 clients who required the assistance of a walker or cane or other physical disabilities such as visual impairment or an intellectual disability.
Each year, Pembroke presents the organization with $25,000, while Laurentian Valley contributes $12,500 annually.
As operating, maintenance and vehicle replacement costs continue to rise, more funding is always needed.
Pledge sheets are available at the Handi-Bus office at 170 Ellis St., at the city’s recreation department office in the Pembroke Memorial Centre, the law offices of Sheppard and Gervais, 290 Pembroke St. East, or for further information, call 613-735-6998.