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Eight-hundred Canadians Kick Off New Year At Largest Charity Polar Bear Dip

OAKVILLE, ON, Jan. 1, 2013 /CNW/ - Eight-hundred Canadians of all ages kicked off the New Year by running into the cold water of Lake Ontario at the Courage Polar Bear Dip in Oakville.  The temperature was  -6 degrees, colder with the wind chill,  and swimmers braved  frigid water only slightly above freezing.

"I decided to do the dip to raise money for World Vision and I had a friend who did it last year who had a lot of fun," says Israel Lomos, 16, of Oakville. "I think it'll be rewarding and it's a great way to start the New Year!"

This family event attracted 'dippers' from four to 74, many of whom came dressed in costumes ranging from swamp monsters to Santa.  Oakville councillors took the plunge along with members of the Toronto Rock Blaine Manning and Patrick Merrill.

This year the dippers raised more than $120,000 helping the dip pass a major milestone to become Canada's first million-dollar dip for charity. It has now raised more than $1 million for clean water projects since teaming up with World Vision in 1995.

"After visiting Rwanda a few years ago and observing the tremendous need for clean water, and then seeing the difference in communities where donations to World Vision are at work, I am beyond ecstatic," says Trent Courage.  "This isn't just $120,000, it means the building of borehole wells, improved sanitation facilities, teaching of proper hygiene and sanitation practices and the planting of vegetable and fruit trees that will protect the environment and provide income to maintain the new wells."

It is also the first year the dip went international - with long-time dipper Scott Mills organizing a sister dip in Seattle.

Twitter: #milliondollardip @polarbeardip Web: www.polarbeardip.ca or www.worldvision.ca

World Vision is a leading Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. Inspired by our Christian values, we are dedicated to working with the world's most vulnerable people. We serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

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