Miners take polar dip to help a good cause

A fundraising challenge at Copper Mountain Mine led to two employees braving the frozen Similkameen River - TWICE

Patrik Gillerstedt and Ward Phillips braved the frozen Similkameen River twice on Saturday

Working in the mining industry is not without inherent risks.

Those risks generally don’t include hypothermia, however.

Saturday afternoon on the tail end of one of the coldest weeks in Princeton’s history two employees of Copper Mountain Mine took a polar dip in the Similkameen River for a very good cause.

“It wasn’t so bad,” called out Ward Phillips, after plunging into the freezing water for 30 seconds, alongside Patrik Gillerstedt.

The two men warmed up for the challenge in a portable sauna, while a hole was cut in the river’s ice and ladders dropped into the water.

After an initial dive, and retreating to the warmth of the sauna-hut, the pair took a second swim and emerged from the river with their bodies steaming and in some cases ice-covered.

The challenge raised $7,793 for the Princeton Crisis Assistance Center, said human resources manager Kim Vokey.

“This is our first year for the polar dip, our second challenge fundraiser and our fourth supporting the crisis center,” said Vokey. “Last year three employees challenged each other and dyed their hair in Christmas colors. We decided to do a different challenge this year.”

In four years mine employees have donated $35,000 to crisis assistance.

For the polar dip event, both participants canvassed to raise funds, and $1,500 was donated by Eriez Manufacturing.

“We had two buckets,” said Vokey, “one labeled Patrik and one for Ward. Donors put money into the buckets of the person they wanted to see go in the water. The guys were about even so they both went in.”

A first-aider was on hand Saturday “in case either of our guys got into trouble.”