John McGetrick of the Ottawa Police Service and Special Olympics Ontario athlete, Mélanie Héroux have become quite the Polar Plunge duo! For the last six years, the pair have been the first plungers to make the chilling jump. “This always keeps me looking forward to the next Polar Plunge,” said Mélanie.
Mélanie first got involved with Polar Plunge when Special Olympics Eastern Ontario Director, Kirk De Fazio and herself were brainstorming new and creative ways to raise critically needed funds and awareness for the Special Olympics movement. Mélanie recalled those early years saying, “the first couple of years, the event was held at Lansdowne Park but, has since moved to the grounds of Algonquin College and has been a huge success ever since!” In a similar fashion, John’s participation with Polar Plunge came from his previous involvement as co-chair of the Ottawa Police Service Law Enforcement Torch Run Committee. “It is a great way to participate in community events while supporting those with intellectual disabilities,” said John.
As an athlete and ambassador for the Special Olympics movement, Mélanie often has the opportunity, honour and pleasure of giving the word of welcome and thanks to everyone attending all the various fundraising events in support of Special Olympics. Polar Plunge has provided many wonderful ways for Mélanie to provide support not only to Special Olympics but to ALL Law Enforcement and emergency services across the province. To this day, the rewards that come from the Plunge are a main reason Mélanie has continued her involvement with the event. “While the water is mortifyingly freezing cold during the Polar Plunge event, it’s very rewarding,” said Mélanie.
For John, his continued involvement comes from seeing his community band together to reach a common goal. “It is an incredible event with participation from first responders, members of the community and most importantly, Special Olympics athletes,” said John.
With the Virtual Polar Plunge amongst us, John and Mélanie encourage all to get involved with the event. As a Special Olympics athlete herself, Mélanie said “I think it's very important that people get involved and support Special Olympics as much as possible. Any funds raised help cover the costs of sending athletes to and from meets and competitions, including big events such as Provincial, National and World Games.” John echoed the same sentiments noting that “volunteering with Special Olympics is an overwhelmingly positive experience,” and hopes to see his community rise to the occasion for another year.
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