It’s going to take a lot of courage to jump into the Columbia River on the first day of spring.
But that is exactly what the aptly named Team Columbia River Courage are about to do while raising funds for Special Olympics BC-Trail (SOBC-Trail) on Sunday, March 20.
Special Olympic athlete Jake Miller and father-son volunteers Chris and Jaxon Kuchar are set to take the Polar Plunge with a low forecasted for -4C and a high of 6C.
“We’re pretty pumped up to do it, and a little nervous,” said Chris. “But it’s Jake Miller and Special Olympics, so I’m looking forward to it, it’s going to be fun.”
It’s not the first time Jake has participated in the event. Miller took the plunge in the Columbia River in early February 2021 with a temperature of -10C, so this may be a literal walk in the park for the seasoned athlete and Polar Plunger.
“This local SOBC-Trail athlete has had to work hard at coping skills with the obstacles of COVID 19,” said SOBC-Trail coach and Jake’s mom Rhonda Chandler. “He is more than willing to take on any challenge that comes his way.”
This year, the Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC will play a vital part in helping athletes get back to the sports and the SOBC family that matter to them.
Special Olympics BC volunteers, athletes, and supporters around the province are currently working hard to reopen their in-person programs, with strong SOBC safety protocols in place.
Chris has been involved with SOBC-Trail for about seven years coaching floor hockey, basketball, and snowshoeing, as well as helping raise funds at the Sud Shack at Beaver Valley Nitehawks games.
Chris had noted the long-lasting, far-reaching impact the pandemic has had on Special Olympic athletes, and says support is needed now more than ever to rebuild year-round, in-person sport programs that create empowering connections, open hearts and minds to inclusion, and break down barriers.
“I think everyone has felt disconnected the last few years, so for everyone to get back together and do this thing, jump in the river, it is a step to getting back to normal and creating that special community,” added Chris.
Residents can help reunite friends on the playing fields and pools in SOBC-Trail’s programs by taking your own Polar Plunge in your own way, and be eligible to win a variety of prizes.
Or join Team Courage and the Trail Smoke Eaters, and get bold and cold in the Columbia River on Sunday at Gyro Park beach at 1 p.m.
Funds raised will go to Special Olympics BC and SOBC-Trail, which serves the communities of Trail, Rossland, Montrose, Warfield, and Fruitvale.
Residents can register their own team for the Polar Plunge from March 5 to March 20, or stay warm and make a donation at www.specialolympics.ca/polar-plunge-special-olympics-bc.