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Bedford trio’s 30 days of polar dips raise money for Phoenix Youth


More than 50 people stripped down to their bathing suits and ran into the Atlantic Ocean on a cold, wet and windy Wednesday in Halifax.

It was the 30th polar dip in as many days for Sid Fraser, Mitch Hippern and Koko McNeill.

On Jan. 1, the three Bedford friends vowed to jump into a body of water every day in January to raise money for Phoenix Youth and awareness for mental health.

“I dealt with some mental-health issues when I was younger, especially, so I always wanted to get involved with something surrounding mental health, I just didn’t know how or what,” said McNeill, 23.

Fraser, who had done a few polar dips last year, reached out to McNeill with an idea.

“He gave me a ring and said we should do a polar dip every day for a month and do a fundraiser for it,” the 23-year-old said. “So we picked Phoenix Youth because I know a lot of kids there have mental health challenges and the staff there do offer support and resources for that.”

People head back to the shore at Black Rock Beach in Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park on Wednesday after a polar dip in support of Phoenix Youth mental health programs. - Ryan Taplin
People head back to the shore at Black Rock Beach in Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park on Wednesday after a polar dip in support of Phoenix Youth. - Ryan Taplin

Phoenix Youth is a non-profit organization in Halifax that provides services and programs to people between the ages of 11 and 24 and their families.

McNeill originally thought of setting the fundraising goal at $2,000 or $3,000.

“Then I thought, why don’t we just go for something super big?” he said.

The three friends decided on a goal of $10,000, which was surpassed Tuesday. As of Wednesday afternoon, 207 people had donated a total of $11,820 to the initiative.

With only one day left, the three guys have followed through on their daily polar dip promise.

“We made it very clear in the beginning that none of us would be able to miss a day, no matter how sick we were,” said McNeill.

They posted their daily polar dips on social media and started hearing from people who wanted to join.

“People would just reach out and be like, ‘Hey, I want to do a dip,’” recalled McNeill, so they started group polar dips on Saturdays.

- Ryan Taplin
- Ryan Taplin

Adrienne McCormick, 24, and Chelsea Yeo, 25, have joined the group every Saturday and joined in on Wednesday, too.

“We’re good friends with the guys who have been doing it the whole month, so we’re just coming out to support them,” said McCormick after her dip in the ocean, adding she was freezing but happy.

“As they’ve all said, all of us are impacted by mental health, whether directly or indirectly, so it’s just been a blast to get out here and show our support for what they’re doing,” she said.

McNeill encouraged people to share their polar dips on social media, accompanied with a personal story or mental health fact.

“People have come out and said I’ve dealt with this and that, so that’s been awesome and I’d love to keep that going,” he said.

SUPPORT THEIR FUNDRAISER HERE

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