Niagara Gazette

Communities

March 1, 2013

Making the Polar Bear swim a family tradition in Olcott

Niagara Gazette — OLCOTT — With the Polar Bear Swim For Sight going into its 44th Sunday at Olcott Beach, the tradition has become three generational.

Grandparents have passed "Freezing for a Reason" tradition to their children and their grandchildren. That's the case with Dave Kirkpatrick of Lockport, his daughter Carol Noon and his grandson, Trevor, 15, of Olcott.

"It takes a special character," said Bill Clark of the sponsoring Olcott Lions Club. Clark has been the chairmen for 18 years. He took over from Mike Rann, who founded of Olcott's fundraiser in 1968.

Clark is not one of those "special characters" who splashes in the frigid Lake Ontario water, but he is one of the special characters who keep the tradition alive. He wil be on site Sunday, working at the registration table and standing on the inclined bank at Krull Park with other Lions.

Kirkpatrick, who was working at Delphi in 2001, accepted the business challenge to raise $1,000 for the Lions Club. The Vietnam veteran who was assigned to the 101st Airborne warned he would not go in the lake if he couldn't raise $1,000. A member of the Lions since 1998, he raised raised $3,465, getting much if the money from the guys at work.

His buddies also gave him advise prior to the dip. He was told to run in and run out and told to wear as few clothes as possible. Acclimate yourself.

Kirkpatrick wore little, a bikini bottom. But, instead of running in and running out, he was the first in and last out. He ducked his head in the icy lake three times and said he came out with brain freeze.

He was told as long as he shivered, he would be fine, but if you stop shivering, get help. It took about three hours for Kirkpatrick to stop shivering and recover.

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