Enduring the Chill for Charity

January 10th, 2018

Photo provided by KelownaNow

The CRIS Polar Bear Dip returns for another year with support from UBCO’s JDC West Team

While many chose to spend the first day of the New Year resting by the fire wrapped in a warm blanket, over 1,000 people gathered to Okanagan Lake to partake in the 4th annual Polar Bear Dip and watch their friends and family dash into the frigid waters – or even do it themselves.

UBC Okanagan’s JDC West team assisted in organizing the event. Emilie Sarkissian, Vice-President Participation and Logistics for JDC West and Coordinator of the Polar Bear Dip, is a passionate supporter of CRIS and has been involved with the event for the past several years. This year she took charge of the event by welcoming and directing the public and was happily surprised by the large turnout that flooded into Tugboat Bay.

“I’m blown away by the event this year,” Sarkissian stated, “it was probably three times as big as previous years.”


“I’m blown away by the event this year,” Sarkissian stated, “it was probably three times as big as previous years.”


The afternoon event was described as a dip-by-donation with all proceeds going towards the Community Recreational Initiatives Society (CRIS) Adaptive Adventures – a local non-profit organization that allows people of all abilities and disabilities to experience the outdoors through adaptive equipment.

The event raised a collective amount of nearly $8,000 from approximately 450 courageous participants alongside generous donations from supporting local businesses, smashing the fundraising goal of $5,000 set by JDC West.

Some members of JDC took a break from their volunteering and took part in the polar plunge; reasoning that the peer pressure from their fellow members helped them forward into the lake, but braving the cold for a good cause was incentive enough.

“I’m jumping because JDC West is putting it on and there’s actually not too many of us in Kelowna right now to jump because of the holiday,” said Aidan Gay. “So I thought [I would] be a representative and get my body wet.”

Leif Undseth, also apart of JDC West’s crew of brave divers, added, “We went out with CRIS adventures and actually saw what they did. We wanted to support it, be apart of it.”

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