Chris Pombiere holds his nose before jumping. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
At 87-years old, Elaine Chalmers is braver than most. She jumped into the Catwalk Pond with no hesitation, guided by Firefighter Ray Green. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Heather Jobe, Community Development Coordinator for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSCPA) of Renfrew County, was the first of the 31 registered jumpers to hit the water. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Under the watchful eyes of firefighters Ray Green (in water) and Chase Duffy, Ontario SPCA Renfrew County Animal Centre Manager Amanda Eckersley takes the plunge. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
Firefighter Chase Duffy gingerly puts on the safety noodle around OSPCA Employee Kate Graham’s waist. It will keep her from accidently getting stuck under the ice. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
The chilly dunking was a literal eye-opener for Shannon Meyers. (Photos by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)
2019 Polar Bear Dip more than doubles goal for local SPCA
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday March 21, 2019
“Heather made me do it,” admitted most people as they got ready to jump into the frigid waters for the 2019 Polar Bear Dip.
It wasn’t surprising that this was an oft-repeated refrain when considering that Heather Jobe, Community Development Coordinator for the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SCPA) Renfrew County Animal Centre, has often been described as a force of nature when it comes to raising money to help animals.
She managed to lure 31 registered jumpers to the icy shores of the Catwalk at the Centennial Park, many of whom collected pledges for the opportunity to freeze their proverbial paws off. Many more spectators gathered to watch these brave souls plunge into the freezing water on March 3
“It’s amazing,” said Jobe. “Just look at everybody here. I’m not surprised there are so many people because people love animals.”
Jobe led the plunge, willingly, and with very little hesitation, jumping first into the water.
Though like many she came up sputtering and desperately cold, she knew that the pain was all worthwhile as the event had raised $4,500 with more still coming in. This far surpassed the original goal of $2,100. “We love animals and these animals need our help,” said Jobe. “The animals depend on us and anything we can do, even if it seems a little extreme, to raise some money to help...is worth it in the end,” she added.
Safety was paramount as the event isn’t without its risks. Firefighters were on the scene to help the plungers get in and out of the water without incident and at all times, a heavily equipped firefighter was in the water to ensure that no one slipped under the ice.
“In the suit, it’s very comfortable and without, it’s not pleasant,” said President of the Firefighters Association Peter Moss. “Though I wouldn’t know since I’ve never been in the water without a suit on.”
He did appreciate the chance to watch - and maybe laugh a little - at the participants as they grimaced and hollered throughout the dip.
Originally postponed due to dangerously cold weather, the event was part of the 2018 Cabin Fever lineup. To keep it alive, organizers had to move it to a warmer day. This setback actually turned out to be a good thing as the event attracted more donations and there was less threat of frostbite or hypothermia.
The Polar Bear Dip traditionally benefited a different charity every year, but the Ontario SPCA has decided to take on the Polar Bear Dip as part of their roster of fundraisers. This event is now a smaller part of their National Cupcake Day Fundraiser.
The money raised from the Polar Bear Dip will go towards the care and maintenance of the animals at the shelter.
Jobe was grateful to all the jumpers and their supporters as well as to the Town of Petawawa who helped them organize the event, and Dominos Pizza Petawawa as they donated nine extra-large pizzas for the plungers.