As winter grips Williams Lake in its icy grasp once more, preparations are underway for the 2020 Williams Lake Roller Derby League’s Freezin’ For a Reason.
For 20 years now lakecity locals of all ages, for various causes, have braved the frigid temperatures of mid-January to mid-February to trek out onto the ice and plunge into Williams Lake.
While its name and organizers have changed over the years from its 17-year tenure with the Williams Lake Rustlers Rugby Football Club to now, it’s happened consistently thanks in large part to the enthusiasm of their participants and volunteers who come back year after year to dare the water once more.
This year the event is being organized once more by Sunny Dyck, the head coach of the Caribruisers and the BlockStars roller derby teams.
Dyck said she was once a polar plunger, which is why she enjoys organizing it each year.
This year the event will take place on Sunday, Feb. 2 at Scout Island with the ice cutting taking place via chainsaw at 9 a.m., registration at 12 p.m. and the plunge beginning at 1 p.m. and going until 2 p.m. at the latest. Dyck said these times can change, however, depending on weather conditions and safety concerns.
As in previous years, Central Cariboo Disposal Services will be providing them two sea cans that will be warmed by heaters from Broadway Rentals for the swimmers after their plunge. There will also be a concession table on-site with some “warm goodies” for onlookers and swimmers to enjoy.
“It’s the 20th anniversary of a polar bear swim in Williams Lake so it’s kind of a big deal. We have the usual things planned where we’re going to invite people to come to Scout Island and willingly jump into a freezing lake for fundraising purposes of their own choice,” Dyck said.
Unlike other fundraisers, Freezin’ for a Reason does not have its participants raise money for only one cause, instead Dyck said a few years ago they changed it so that each individual or group taking part raise money for their own chosen charities.
Dyck said that while they do have special plans in place to celebrate the milestone, she wants to keep them under wraps for now and leave it as a surprise for those who take part.
She did say one alumnus who has taken part consistently over the last few years and will be the first in the water on Sunday, will be honoured but was tight-lipped about any further details.
So far they have around 28 groups and individuals registered to jump in the lake, which is pretty good thus far Dyck said. They’re happy that local sports teams, businesses and alumni have all shown this level of interest but she said they’re also always open and looking for more people.
They’ll be accepting registration from any time between now and 12 p.m. on the day of the plunge, providing they can pay the $25 registration fee which covers the cost of the event, per group.
“There was one year we had around 56 people go into the water but I would never be able to put an actual cap on how many people because once you do it it’s such a thrill ride to be in that water,” Dyck said. “It’s so quick and half the people say it’s not as cold as they were expecting but we get you in and get you out and however many people want to do it, we’re there for them.”
Personally, Dyck loves how accessible this event is for people as there is no real limit on who can jump into cold water. Seeing them come out of the water energized and feeling good about themselves is great, she said, and a big part of why she keeps coming back each year.
Registration can be done online via https://www.caribruisers.com/ or the groups Facebook page Freezin’ for a Reason or in person at the event itself. They’re also still looking for sponsors and donations from local businesses and Dyck invites anyone interested in getting their name out there to reach out to her.