Glenn Fagnan, board member with the Lloydminster Handivan Society, is excited to be holding a Polar Bear Splash to help raise funds to support operational costs. FILE PHOTO
It’s billed as Lloydminster’s coolest event with a “be a hero in sub zero” concept to motivate participants.
The Lloydminster Handivan Society, which provides transportation services to residents with special needs and mobility challenges, is holding a Polar Bear Splash to raise operational funds.
The event will be held downtown at the old Synergy building parking lot, as part of the Here Come Santa Claus Festival on Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
There could be prizes for best costume and for the most revenue raised by those who simply step or bellyflop into a tank of water.
“It’s something, unique, something fun and something that we can do to generate revenue for the next number of years,” said Glenn Fagnan, Handivan society director.
The admission for jumping into the tank is $100 worth of pledges with the proceeds going toward the Handivan Society that also operates a Care-A-Van shuttle for non-emergency medical appointments out of town.
Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers could be the first splasher if Fagnan has his way.
“I just put a call in to him,” he said last Wednesday, one day before the Handivan Society launched their newbordercityconnects.com website, with information on how to sign up.
“We’ve got people who are challenging real estate agents.”
Fagnan is hoping about 100 people will take the plunge this year into four feet of water in 10 by 10 ft. tank, donated by the Britannia Fire Department.
“The water will be cold; it’s going to be cold outside,” said Fagnan with a laugh.
“We’re set up in the parking lot just across from World Financial Group, so people who need to change out of their wet clothes will be changing in their office.”
There is talk of having a tent to shelter the bellyfloppers, with a lot of the small details subject to change as word spreads on social media.
“We’re going to try to play that by ear and just see what we get for registration, and see how this is all going to go,” said Fagnan.
“This is the first annual event, so we’re really changing here as we go along.”
The research he’s done on other polar plunge fundraisers tells him they start off small and usually start to catch on as they’re repeated in subsequent years.
Fagnan thinks tying the polar splash with Here Comes Santa is a win-win for both groups, with thousands of people down town to celebrate the arrival of Santa that day.
He said it will provide a little bit of entertainment while people are eating their hotdogs cooked on site by the Lloydminster Fire Department and the Lloydminster Rescue Squad, or hopping on sleigh rides.
The polar splash will also officially celebrate the addition of a 14-seat van to the Handivan fleet, purchased for about $88,000 by the Fred North Charitable Foundation.
“On that same day, we will thank the Fred North Foundation with a presentation before the splash,” said Fagnan.
The vehicle is a 2017 Dodge ProMaster with multiple seating configurations available.
“I can take all the seats out, they only weigh about 40 pounds each, and I can have four wheelchairs in there because it does have a lift,” said Fagnan.
“With all the seats in, it can seat 14 people plus a driver, or six seats in and two wheelchairs, so configurations like that.”
Fagnan said the new handivan will also be used to generate revenue to take people to and from events, as it did for the recent Sapphires and Sirens fundraiser for the Lloydminster Rescue Squad.
“We’ve done a wedding – we’ve only had it for a little over a month,” he said.
He said it’s great they got the new bus with the polar splash idea to raise some operating capital for entire fleet.
Fagnan said the Handivan society gets about five per cent of its funding from governments, with the City of Lloydminster paying the rent, along with a modest grant from the province of Saskatchewan.
“About 50 per cent of our money comes from our fares and 45 per cent from the community,” he said.
“With a little bit of a slowdown here—we’ve never really done a bunch of fundraising, because the community has been so gracious.
“We’re having to do one now.”