When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
Chris Oldham followed that logic with a Canadian slant by joining hundreds of other brave souls plunging into frigid Lake Superior waters on Saturday.
The visitor from Britain took part in the fifth annual Ontario Law Enforcement Torch Run Polar Bear Plunge for Special Olympics Ontario at Prince Arthur’s Landing.
When Oldham told his friends and family back home of his planned exploits, they thought he had gone completely bonkers.
“To be honest, it’s pretty nuts,” he said. “I told everyone and their reactions were all the same, like you’re doing what. They just don’t get it but I’ll only get the one chance so I have to take it while it’s there.”
When it came closer to time to jump, even Oldham was trying to search for sanity, reason and logic to justify his participation.
He admitted that he woke up in the morning and instantly regretted the decision and added he was questioning it even more when watching those at the front of the line.
Oldham said being immersed in the water is not comparable to anything else he had ever done and that he recommends it to anybody contemplating it in the future..
“It’s a sudden shock. You don’t really think anything,” he said. “When you first hit the water it’s something else.”
There were multiple participants from law enforcement agencies and correctional services who braved the icy water.
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Thunder Bay Police Service Det. Const. Jeff Elvish took the plunge for the first time.
There was only one way he could describe the sensation of hitting the water.
“Wow, the only word that came to my head was wow,” Elvish said. “You get in there and get out, climb on the side and get warm.”
Wrandi McIver, who was on a team with co-workers at the Safeway location on Dawson Road, said her work with those being benefitted by the event made her want to take the plunge.
“We were doing fundraising for the Special Olympics and I got to meet the athletes and they completely inspired me,” she said. “I just thought I had to do something a little bit crazy for them.”
Those close to her agreed it was crazy with some jokingly bidding her farewell before her jump.
Many of the participants were dressed in elaborate costumes and some particularly courageous ones sported beach attire despite the temperature hovering around the freezing mark.
There were people of all ages representing groups, teams, organizations and schools.
In a post on their Facebook page, the Thunder Bay Police Service said more than $60,000 was raised.
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