Perth Polar Bear Plunge rings in 2024 with $25,000 to Rural FASD

Rob More (left) of Rural FASD, this year’s chairty for the 30th annual Perth Polar Bear Plunge, gets ready to plunge with Dave Lavery, the man who spearheaded this event three decades ago. Photo credit: Laurie Weir.
Posted on: January 1, 2024

Jan. 1 was the first day in a week that the sun broke through the cloudy gloom as more than 100 plungers braved the -4-degree temperature for the Perth Polar Bear Plunge.

In this 30th year of the plunge, proceeds – which are still being tabulated – are hitting nearly $25,000 for Rural FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder). 

Rob More is the chair of the board of directors at Rural FASD. He’s been promoting the plunge at various community events and gaining support from several businesses with gift bags offered to the first 100 plungers to register, and the free breakfast for plungers, courtesy of Barnabe’s Your Independent Grocer. 

Something new to the plunge this year was the use of two portable saunas from Blue Wagon Sauna. “Thank you to Evan and Jarryd Lee of Mighty Valley Coffee for making this happen,” More stated on his Facebook page.

The Perth Firefighters Association installed the DockMaster dock with the help of long-time plungers, David Lavery (who kickstarted this fundraiser 30 years ago), and Alfred Von Mirbach. 

There were 109 plungers registered early in the day with their fundraising target of $30,000 within sight.

Perth’s Town Crier Brent McLaren kicked off the plunge with Lake 88.1 personality, Bob Perreault introducing the jumpers, who lined up into the Perth-Upon-Tay Royal Canadian Legion, from where the event took place. 

This year’s oldest jumper was Glen Ashe, 80. The youngest was Elsbeth at age seven (no last name was given). 

Mark Gainsford, one of the youngest participants, raised an impressive $3,700. 


More said he was asked what it meant to live with FASD. 

Living with FASD, based on evidence-based research, means it’s likely that a person with FASD will have: 

  • Experienced at least one adverse childhood experience;
  • Have seen their parents experience a mental health breakdown;
  • Have a physical disability;
  • Have an intellectual disability; 
  • Have a communication disability;
  • Have mental health challenges;
  • Have a nervous system disability;
  • Have been told it’s their fault, or the fault of their parents; 
  • Have been told that they can’t come to school, (camp, group or team) because they don’t belong;
  • And have been told their disabilities are not eligible for government funding, or that their parents can’t get respite.
Video by Laurie Weir

“To every child and adult living with FASD and all their caregivers who support them, who still believes, who still fights, and who is still willing to speak up despite all of the above, thank you,” More wrote. 

To support these extraordinary FASD fighters, donate at until Feb. 1. 

Funds raised with support Rural FASD Support Network of Eastern Ontario. 

The Rural FASD Support Network was founded in 2018 by a small group of volunteers with personal knowledge of, and experience with FASD. The organization serves the counties of Lanark and Leeds & Grenville within eastern Ontario but welcome across the province of Ontario. The group became a non-profit corporation in 2019 and currently serves156 members.  

“We recognize that the journey to finding workable solutions takes time and can be extremely challenging,” their website states. “However, we believe that with the proper supports, individuals and families impacted by FASD can achieve success and reach their full potential.”

To learn more, visit 

The Perth Polar Bear Plunge began in 1994, as a fun idea and fundraiser for Crime Stoppers. Founded by Lavery, Stan Munro, and others at the Perth legion, it quickly grew into one of the safest and most successful true Polar Bear Plunges in Canada.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News