Annual Courage Polar Bear Dip Raises Money For Clean Water Worldwide

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Every year, hundreds of people jump into the icy cold waters of Lake Ontario Canada at the Courage Polar Bear Dip each year while thousands watch and cheer them on.

Some show up for the incredible festival atmosphere, some want to try something a little over the edge to ring in the New Year, others just want to get their faces and crazy costumes in the local and national media. No matter what brings them to Coronation Park on January 1st every year, each dipper is helping raise funds for a great cause.

Net proceeds from the Courage Polar Bear Dip have been given to World Vision Canada since 1995. In that time over $940,000 has been raised and has funded clean water projects around the world.

Below is a history of how much was raised each year and what the money went for mostly in the third world during times of disaster or to help water and sanitation projects in Africa, Latin and Central America and more.

2012 | $130,000 RAISED FOR MANONGA, TANZANIA

It was 5°C with rain and high winds but that didn’t stop 712 dippers from taking the plunge on January 1st 2012. Celebrity Chef Roger Mooking entertained the crowd as he hosted the costume contest then counted down the first of 3 waves of dippers with Trent and Todd. The $130,000 raised will complete the Manonga Water and Sanitation Project that began with funds raised from the 2011 event.

2011 | $150,000 RAISED FOR MANONGA, TANZANIA

Rainy and 13°C is not what you expect when planning a Polar Bear Dip but it certainly brought the crowds! Colin Mochrie and Deb McGrath counted down from the stage as 728 dippers took to Lake Ontario and helped us reach our goal of $150,000 for the Manonga Water and Sanitation Project in Tanzania. Thanks to our dippers, our generous sponsors and our incredible volunteers we are able to help bring clean water to 6,000 people.

This project will build 10 borehole wells, provide improved sanitation facilities, teach proper hygiene and sanitation practices and allow vegetable and fruit trees to be planted to protect the environment and provide income that will maintain the wells.

2010 | $230,000 RAISED FOR KAHI, RWANDA

Wow! All previous records were broken at the 25th anniversary dip as over 600 dippers took the plunge raising more funds than ever! These brave participants along with their sponsors, the 5000+ crowd of spectators and unbelievable corporate support brought in over $230,000 which will complete the Kahi Water Project in Rwanda, fully fund a water project in Kenya AND start another clean water project in Tanzania!

2009 | $55,000 RAISED FOR KAHI, RWANDA

At 1:59pm on January 1 2009, Tom Cochrane led the 5000+ crowd at Coronation Park in a countdown as 450 dippers prepared to dip into Lake Ontario. Thanks to those brave dippers, the enthusiastic spectators, our fantastic corporate sponsors and over 60 volunteers, we were able to raise $55,000 for the Kahi Water Project in Rwanda.

The money raised will help provide a dependable source of clean water for the people of Kahi in the Umutara region of Rwanda. By drilling new wells and building reservoirs, the project will bring safe water close to the people who live in the community. The new water system will reduce the suffering caused by drinking dirty water and save children hours of wasted time, which can now be spent at school.

Trent and Todd visited the Kahi Water Project in Rwanda with World Vision to see how the funds have helped the community. The money raised in 2009 funded the first half of the project and we hope to raise another $60,000 at the 2010 event to fund the second half.

2008 | $60,000 RAISED FOR SOUTH DARFUR, SUDAN

It was a cold and snowy New Years Day in 2008 but that didn’t stop 400 dippers and 5000 spectators from coming out to Coronation Park and helping us surpass our goal of $40,000. At the end of the day, over $60,000 had been raised for water projects in South Darfur, Sudan.

The project will help reduce water-borne disease for 7,000 people in eight villages in Edd al Fursan by providing clean water with new borehole wells and hand pumps, restoring clean water with repairs to damaged wells, building 20 latrines, promoting good hygiene practices and establishing and supporting local Water and Sanitation Committees.

The 2008 event received some added attention as Rick Mercer filmed a segment for The Rick Mercer Report throughout the day. The episode aired on January 15 2008 and can be seen here.

2007 | $40,000 RAISED FOR KANDIAYE & SARÉ YÉROYEL COMMUNITIES IN SENEGAL

In 2007, the warmest water we’ve had (4C!) was braved by over 450 dippers as over 5000 spectators watched and cheered. These brave participants, the enthusiastic crowd and our generous corporate sponsors helped us reach our goal. We raised over $40,000 for the Koukané Water Project in Senegal.

The Project will help provide a safe, dependable source of water for over 1,300 people in one of Senegal’s most impoverished regions. A borehole well with solar pump will be built, along with a ground reservoir, offering a safe, central source of water to sustain eight surrounding communities. With fresh, clean water, residents will be able to grow vegetables throughout the year, increase their food supply and income security, and improve the health and well being of the entire community.

2006 | $35,000 RAISED FOR THE MASIMA COMMUNITY IN KENYA

In 2006, mild temperatures brought over 400 dippers and 5000 spectators to Coronation Park who helped us reach our goal of $35,000! Funds raised went to the drilling of a bore hole and the laying of over 14 kilometers of water pipelines in the Masimba community in Kenya’s Kaijado district.

2005 |$60,000 RAISED FOR TSUNAMI RELIEF

In 2005, 500 dippers and over 5000 spectators helped us raise over $60,000 for tsunami relef. Due to the Boxing Day earthquake that sparked tsunamis and unimaginable disaster causing deaths of over 120,000 people, all net proceeds from the 2005 event were donated to World Vision Canada’s efforts in south Asia. The Federal government matched all donations made to tsunami relief so approximately $120,000 was raised for World Vision.

2004 | $20,000 RAISED FOR COSTA RICA, NICARAGUA, ZAMBIA AND UGANDA

In 2004, the great weather helped bring in 450 dippers and over 5000 spectators. People arrived early to enjoy the music of Whaling and helped us raise over $20,000!

2003 | $20,000 RAISED FOR ZAMBIA, UGANDA, COSTA RICA AND NICARAGUA

In 2003, we had 320 dippers and over 4000 spectators who helped us reach our goal of $20,000.

2002 | $20,000 RAISED FOR CHILDREN IN AFGHANISTAN

In 2002, over 3000 spectators watched as over 300 Polar Bears Dippers took the plunge in 1 degree  water.  Almost $20 000 was raised to help Afghani refugees. It helped protect them from hunger and a bitterly cold winter.

2001 | $20,000 RAISED FOR NICARAGUA, HONDURAS AND TANZANIA

In 2001, a storm on December 29th, caused panic to the organizers where tons of snow hit the lake at Coronation Park. It was the first time the event may have been cancelled. However, on New Years Eve day and New Years day, six volunteers with jackhammers, axes, pick axes and shovels worked eight hours to dig an entry and an exit to the lake. Luckily everything worked out and 236 dippers, took the plunge while close to 3500 spectators witnessed. A little under $20,000 was raised for World Vision.

Photo credit: DanSutton on flickr.

Renee Blodgett
Founder
Renee Blodgett is the founder of We Blog the World. The site combines the magic of an online culture and travel magazine with a global blog network and has contributors from every continent in the world. Having lived in 10 countries and explored nearly 80, she is an avid traveler, and a lover, observer and participant in cultural diversity.

She is also the CEO and founder of Magic Sauce Media, a new media services consultancy focused on viral marketing, social media, branding, events and PR. For over 20 years, she has helped companies from 12 countries get traction in the market. Known for her global and organic approach to product and corporate launches, Renee practices what she pitches and as an active user of social media, she helps clients navigate digital waters from around the world. Renee has been blogging for over 16 years and regularly writes on her personal blog Down the Avenue, Huffington Post, BlogHer, We Blog the World and other sites. She was ranked #12 Social Media Influencer by Forbes Magazine and is listed as a new media influencer and game changer on various sites and books on the new media revolution. In 2013, she was listed as the 6th most influential woman in social media by Forbes Magazine on a Top 20 List.

Her passion for art, storytelling and photography led to the launch of Magic Sauce Photography, which is a visual extension of her writing, the result of which has led to producing six photo books: Galapagos Islands, London, South Africa, Rome, Urbanization and Ecuador.

Renee is also the co-founder of Traveling Geeks, an initiative that brings entrepreneurs, thought leaders, bloggers, creators, curators and influencers to other countries to share and learn from peers, governments, corporations, and the general public in order to educate, share, evaluate, and promote innovative technologies.
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