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The Sears Great Canadian Chill: A Polar Plunge for A Great Cause

Winters in Canada are notoriously cold, but that factor rarely holds back its citizens from celebrating. While many towns and cities basically shut down for the winter, areas like Ottawa and Toronto are just hitting their respective strides. Both of these cities are the epitome of year-round vacation destinations. From skiing and skating to ice fishing and snowmobiling, during the cold months you’ll find a plethora of things to do. In addition to the cold, each city has more than enough indoor activities to fill multiple vacations such as shopping, restaurants, sports events, historic locations, museums and more. These major Canadian cities are epicenters for culture and art. You’ll find ample opportunities to experience their rich cultures for yourself at art shows, galleries, and theaters. Ottawa and Toronto are also great locations to find festivals and events. Many of them are held during the winter and you’ll find plenty of friendly and hearty participants taking part in the action.  


Commonly known as “The Chill”, The Sears Great Canadian Chill is a great event for participants and spectators alike. Participants will plunge into freezing waters of both Ottawa and Toronto, for a great cause. The Chill is primarily a fundraising event that supports the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Each city holds their own event respectively, but both rally under the noble banner of helping children who are suffering from cancer. There is something for all ages and backgrounds at the events including sponsor giveaways, delicious food, fun activities, and plenty of friendly people to meet. For a memorable experience that supports a great cause, grab the family and head to one of The Sears Great Canadian Chill events. You’ll have a great time and help out children in need. We interviewed Paulina Piwek, the Event Representative from Influence Marketing, to talk about The Chill and how it helps sick kids.


RAL: Tell me about the events.

PP: The Chill polar bear dip series was founded in 2011. The Ottawa Chill takes place on New Year’s Day at Britannia Beach, while the Toronto Chill takes place at Yonge-Dundas Square on Family Day (February 15th). Both locations are fun for everyone who attends, from those seeking adventure by fulfilling a bucket list item to those who want to help a great cause.


RAL: What makes “The Chill” stand out from other events?

PP: By accepting this chilly challenge, the Ottawa and Toronto communities can come together to support their local heroes, specifically the brave kids living with and beyond cancer at CHEO and SickKids. As many of us can imagine, there’s nothing worse than hearing the words “your child has cancer.”  


In addition to giving back, the Toronto event is the only urban polar bear dip in all of Canada!


RAL: Take me through a day at each event.

PP: For Ottawa, the dip is the main activity of the day. Prior to the dip, everyone gathers in the main tent to listen to the DJ and have a light morning snack, I highly recommend the mac and cheese. After everyone has had their fill, we officially kick off the dip.

The Toronto event is very unique as it takes place in the heart of Toronto. The main event is the URBAN polar bear dip, where participants jump into a custom pool in the middle of Yonge-Dundas Square. After their polar bear dip, participants can chill out in hot tubs! There will be activities and giveaways from our Toronto sponsors and a kid’s zone area, filled with fun things to do for our younger attendees. We will have a food truck, as well as a live band playing music for the duration of the event.


RAL: What do the events mean to the respective communities.

PP: In coming out to the event, Chillers can support their local children’s hospitals in the fight against childhood cancer. The goal of each event is to raise awareness and funds for research, treatments, and support programs that will benefit the sick children and their families. 


Here is a quote from a young two time cancer survivor named Vienna:


“The new scanner will be faster and more precise, so kids like me won’t need to be in there so long exposed to the radiation. It will also take better pictures of the inside of our bodies so that the doctors can find where the tumours or bleeds are and they can start fixing them faster, which means I may be able to play hockey again and go back to school.”


RAL: Why should people come?

PP:  This is truly a Canadian experience and a great way for travellers to differentiate their trip to Canada from all the other fun places they have seen. Plus, it's a great way to help children living with and beyond cancer, while experiencing something new?

For more information about The Sears Great Canadian Chill, please visit their website.