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Cold in the Koots fundraiser nets more than $10,000 for BC Special Olympics

Three Chiefs, from left, Nelson Police Department Paul Burkart, Nelson Fire Rescue Len MacCharles and Deb Morris of BC Ambulance Services, quickly race for the towels after a cool plunge into Kootenay Lake Saturday morning to raise money for BC Special Olympics.

Local Chiefs from the various first responder units in Nelson went over and above the call of duty Saturday morning at Lakeside Park to raise more than $10,000 for BC Special Olympics as part of the BC FreezinforaReason Campaign.

Led by retiring Nelson Police Chief Paul Burkart, the cast, including Nelson Fire Chief Len MacCharles, Chief Deb Morris of BC Ambulance Services and Regional District of Central Kootenay Regional Fire Chief Nora Hannon, raised $10,300 during the Cold in the Koots fundraiser.

“I’d like to thank every single person who donated and took part and raised awareness and committed funds to Special Olympics BC,” said Const. Lisa Schmidtke, one of the many organizers of the event.

With paramedics on in the water and on shore and Social distancing it their best, the four Chiefs, joined by some of the local RDCK Area Fire Chiefs, were virtually pushed off into the water one-by-one by eight-year-old Special Olympian Payton Birk of Salmo.

However, even before the Chiefs hit the water, the event was deemed an overwhelming success as fundraising shattered the initial $3,000 mark.

Nelson Police Chief Paul Burkart, following Nelson Fire Rescue Chief Len MacCharles, takes the plunge into Kootenay Lake Saturday to raise money for BC Special Olympics.

(Nelson Police) Chief ((Paul) Burkart agreed to go into the water for $1,000, the other Chiefs agreed to go in for $1,000 and (fundraising total) just kept growing from there,” said Const. Schmidtke.

“It’s been amazing,” Schmidtke added.

“The RDCK came in and did their own fundraiser and Yom Chi (Martial Arts and Family Learning Centre) got on board . . ..

“There’s so much dedication. There are so many generous people in our community, and we are so very grateful to be part of this and honour our amazing (retiring)  Chief (Burkart) as he moves onto new ventures.”

Schmidtke wanted to give special thanks to Yom Chi Martial Arts and Family Learning Centre, which saw students raise more than $2,800.

Once in and out of the cool, frigid waters of Kootenay Lake, the Chiefs, along with one BC Ambulance member who at the last minute jumped into the water on a dare, quickly toweled off and were warmed with fashion statement robes provided by the Hume Hotel.

Thumbs up for the participants of the BC FreezinforaReason Cold in the Koots Campaign who raised more than $10,000 for BC Special Olympics. From left, BC Paramedic Lindsay Eastwood, RDCK Regional Deputy Fire Chief Training Brent Scott, RDCK Regional Deputy Fire Chief Operations Kynan O’Rourke, retiring Nelson Police Department Chief Paul Burkart, RDCK Regional Fire Chief Nora Hannon, Nelson Fire & Rescue Chief Len MacCharles and Paramedic Chief, Deb Morris.