Since 1980, Special Olympics B.C. (SOBC) has been enriching the lives of those with intellectual disabilities — building confidence and pride through participation in sports.
You can now support SOBC through an "invigorating" fundraiser, the third annual Polar Plunge.
Victoria Police Chief Del Manak explained that the Polar Plunge helps "Raise money for individuals who have intellectual disabilities, so they can show their best and compete in sports all over this province, and across the country, and represent Team Canada."
Special Olympics B.C. award-winning athlete Emily Walzak competed in both golf and figure skating, although when asked to pick one, her choice was clear.
"Figure skating! I like that one better... I like how you can express yourself through the music, and through expression and movements."
Walzak is grateful to those who donated to SOBC.
"It's pretty amazing to have the opportunities that we do, thanks to events like the Polar Plunge, because they wouldn't be possible otherwise."
"I got to go to the Canada Winter Games in Prince George, where I got a 5th place finish! So I'm 5th in Canada for figure skating," says Walzak proudly.
One of Walzak's coaches is Martin Newham, and he knows what these opportunities mean to these remarkable athletes.
"It's very emotional for the coaches. Lots of times you see us tearing up. When they're celebrating on the podium, or whatever, it's just fantastic," Newham said.
Ninety people braved the chilly water at the first annual Vancouver Polar Plunge in March 2016, and raised more than $30,000 for Special Olympics B.C.
Much of the funds were raised by our brave men and women in blue.
"The police have had a long-standing history with Special Olympics BC" said Chief Manak.
And now for the first time, Victoria is joining in the Polar Plunge fun.
"At Victoria Police Department, we've actually started our own webpage and our own team, and so I'm encouraging all of the officers and staff to go and sign up," said Chief Manak.
Walzak has her own strategy to stay warm as she takes the Plunge.
"This is my first time, so it's pretty exciting. I'm just going to wear lots of layers! Just keep the heat in, that's what I plan to do."
The Chief hopes to see much more than just officers at Victoria's Polar Plunge.
"This is a community event. Supporting Special Olympics is nothing new, and I'm appealing to businesses, to residents, to the community to really come out."
"Form your own team, come to the website, register, and support what is a great cause for young athletes and adults who have intellectual disabilities."
Vancouver's Polar Plunge is March 4th at Kitsilano Beach.
Victoria's is March 11 at Willows Beach in Oak Bay.
As Chief Manak pointed out, "It's going to be cold, it's going to be chilly, but the slogan is 'Freezin' for a Reason."