As January 1 approaches, I'm busy getting ready for the big dip.
You see, every New Year's Day for the past 29 years, we have gathered family, friends and costume-clad revellers at the water's edge of Lake Ontario for the Courage Polar Bear Dip, the largest dip for charity in Canada.
Every year I get asked, "How can I make the most of my dip experience?" Here are my top five dip tips for those all over Canada who are dipping in the name of their favourite charity.
Wear water shoes - no one likes to walk on rocky patches in -2 degree water
Put on your plunge outfit under your costume - but remain fully clothed and warm until the last minute and then you're good to go
Bring a buddy - who can help you out of the water and take wacky pictures to share
Don't forget dry clothes and towel - after the dip, it's a must
Have fun - this is a bucket list experience so smile and enjoy!
I also get asked, "Why do you do it?
It's been four years since my brother and I travelled to Rwanda with development organization World Vision to see families who had been given access to clean drinking water. The memories stay with me to this day. Images of children gulping water from clean water taps, the expression of gratitude on the faces of women, the words of appreciation from community members are never forgotten.
It's staggering to hear that 2.2-million deaths of children are preventable just through improvements in safe drinking water, basic sanitation, and hygiene practices.
I saw with my very own eyes how children, not much older than my own boys aged 12, 10 and seven, had walked for miles with water jugs on their heads to the local swamp to gather filthy, bacteria-infested water. The amount of sickness and disease found in the families was unforgettable.
This year all the funds raised will go to change things for a community of 7,000 in Rugarama, Rwanda. Last year, with the help of our supporters, we were able to pass the $1 million mark of total funds raised for borehole wells, improved sanitation facilities and education around proper hygiene and sanitation practices for communities who desperately need it.
Every January 1 as I take that first step into the freezing lake, I remind myself I am moving a child one step closer to clean, healthy, restorative water.
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