Not only did James Ramer become the first Toronto Police Chief to take part in the fifth annual fundraising polar plunge, but he was the top fundraiser with a total of $28,538.
Since 2017, Toronto Police has held the event at Sunnyside Beach to raise money for Special Olympics Ontario. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s campaign was virtual individual efforts.
Between Feb 1 and 28, participants recorded their plunge and posted it in online.
The ’43 Freezies’, led by 43 Division Supt. Dave Rydzik was the top team, raising close to $24,000.
Despite the pandemic, more money was raised in 2021 than in the past four years.
Toronto Police members raised over $80,000, nearly doubling the best year before that at $45,000.
Rydzik, who leads the Toronto Police Polar Plunge fundraiser, said participation increased because of the pandemic.
“I think when you look at the Polar Plunge as a one-day event and with the logistics involved and people having to go to a specific place at a specific time, it makes it more challenging for people to participate,” he said.
“Doing it virtually, people, members had the freedom to do it in their own home. They could do it in the bathtub, under the shower or jump the snow bank. There was much more opportunity for people to have some fun and it was certainly a lot easier for them to participate.”
Of the 20 participants at 43 Division, Rydzik and another member were the only participants who had taken part in the event in previous years.
“So you had 18 new people that participated this year,” he pointed out. “They all said they are in next year because they thought the experience was amazing. The virtual platform provided people that would not have participated the opportunity to do so their way and have fun with it.”
Nearly $40,000 was raised last year.