Skip to content

Polar Plungers dive into fundraiser to get B.C. Special Olympians back in action

Vancouver Island Polar Plunge hits Cadboro-Gyro Beach Feb. 19
Sgt. Kirstin Stuart tests the waters at Willows Beach. The Oak Bay officer is among those who will take the plunge to support Special Olympics athletes during an event in Saanich Feb. 19. (Christine van Reeuwyk/News Staff)

Thousands are expected to dive in to the return of the in-person Polar Plunge to help Special Olympics athletes in B.C.

Oak Bay police Sgt. Kirstin Stuart is the local team lead this year as dippers head for Cadboro-Gyro Beach, where the Saanich department did its virtual plunge in 2022.

While a fair bit warmer than the Salish Sea, Stuart spent much of her youth in a pool as a synchronized swimmer and is familiar with the benefits of sport – well beyond the physical.

“It was my friend group, it was my social activity, it kept me out of trouble,” she said with a chuckle. “So anything that encourages people to be in sport, I’m in.”

Those social aspects are the highlight this year, as plungers gather in-person again, with a focus on getting Special Olympics athletes back out and training together after years of virtual training. Special Olympics BC programs are about halfway back to pre-pandemic levels.

RELATED: Oak Bay hosts inaugural Vancouver Island Polar Plunge for Special Olympics BC

The event raises vital funds to help empower year-round sports, youth and health programs for athletes with intellectual disabilities.

It started as an arm of the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the same cause, the first Vancouver Island event saw plungers take the dip at Willows Beach in 2018. After a couple years online participants are ready to #plunge4SOBC in person this year.

While it remains in partnership with the Law Enforcement Torch Run – and cops from across the south Island dive into the fundraiser – they’ve been joined along the way by other first responders, community leaders and residents.

RELATED: Special Olympians from Greater Victoria and beyond mark a year of growth through Zoom

For example, Mayor Kevin Murdoch is a member of the Oak Bay team.

In nearby Victoria, VicPD Chief Del Manak is already “training” for the plunge, though judging by the video on social media featuring a rubber ducky and a kiddie pool, he has a way to go by dip day.

Community and virtual participation runs from Feb. 18 to March 9, with the Vancouver Island team hitting the waves with fanfare, and a performance by Oak Bay’s own Stephanie Greaves on Feb. 19 at Cadboro-Gyro Park in Saanich.

Registration for the Vancouver Island Polar Plunge starts at 9:30 a.m. with opening ceremonies at 10:30 and waves of plungers hitting the water at 11. Visit for other locations, to register for the virtual plunge and participate from anywhere or to support a team.


Do you have a story tip? Email:

Follow me on Twitter @van_reeuwyk and like Oak Bay News on Facebook.