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Polar Plunge raises funds for LWSO

Updated: Apr 12

Local firefighters and others took a cold swim last weekend for a good cause.

The Amherstburg Firefighters Association presented the first-ever “Amherstburg Polar Plunge” Saturday afternoon to raise money for LaSalle-Windsor Special Olympics (LWSO). They did so to help Max Vigneux, a friend of the fire department who worked at fire station #1, and is an athlete with LWSO.

Cameron Arksey, president of the Amherstburg Firefighters Association (AFA), said there were about 30 people who signed up for the Amherstburg Polar Plunge, which was held at the Amherstburg Yacht Club. Prior to the event, he said they had reached $6,000 of their $10,000 goal and was confident they would make their goal when funds from the afterparty at Shooters Roadhouse were factored in.

Arksey added Sunday the AFA had brought in $7,755 in registration and website donations to that point before factoring in money raised at the afterparty.

Vigneux could not be at the plunge itself, as he was in Tillsonburg competing.

The proceeds from the Amherstburg Polar Plunge will help offset the cost the LWSO incurs by sending their athletes to the provincial competition. 

The estimated cost to send the 28 Special Olympians was in the neighbourhood of $25,000.

“We’re so proud of those young people,” said Arksey. “They live their whole lives with people telling them they can’t do something.”

The LWSO members are an inspiration, he added, and that they are doing things many other people can’t.

Arksey said he saw a similar event online and wanted to bring it to town so the AFA could fundraise for a good cause. The AFA is a separate organization from the fire department itself and is self-funded and a non-profit organization. 

The event also served as a way to thank the department’s water and ice rescue team. Arksey pointed out this is a special group of firefighters who do additional rescue and recovery training in order to be on-call for any emergencies involving our waterways or waterfront. He said it’s an extra responsibility they take on top of their regular duties.

“We take pride in being a waterfront community,” added Arksey.

The event was exclusively organized by the AFA but they had a lot of community support, Arksey added. Donors included Tim Horton’s, the Jones Group, Windsor Salt and St. Clair College.

Arksey said the AFA reached out to its community connections and the community responded.

“We are proud to say this is exclusively presented by the AFA,” he said.

The first group that went into the cold water were the new recruits, followed by more experienced firefighters and members of the community. Some children also braved the cold weather and cold water to raise cash for the cause.

To donate, visit Chilly “Polar Plunge” event gets people all wet for Special Olympics

By Ron Giofu



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