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Locals brave Simcoe polar plunge in support of Palestinian aid

'I’m going to do it, as it’s the least we can do with people dying over there, so this is nothing compared to what they are going through,' says supporter

Area residents took to the frigid waters of Lake Simcoe this weekend for a fundraiser supporting a ceasefire in Gaza and to help send medical supplies overseas.

The Polar Plunge for Palestine at Centennial Beach in Barrie saw a few dozen people brave the cold water, even enduring a short unseasonal snowfall prior to the start of the event on April 20.

Shay Chahrour, of Barrie, came up with the fundraising idea with other people with the local group Simcoe County 4 Palestine to raise some money for the cause.

“People were scared at first, but everyone got on board,” he said about the thought of jumping into the frigid lake.

Chahrour said there were about 25 people registered for the cold plunge, with many coming out to watch.

“I’m actually very scared, and I’ve been anxious about it for the past hour now, because it’s friggin’ cold,” he explained shortly before jumping in.

“But I’m going to do it, as it’s the least we can do with people dying over there, so this is nothing compared to what they are going through,” he added.

Chahrour is Palestinian himself.

“My grandparents were the ones who left back in 1948, and had to go to Lebanon as refugees,” he said. “My mom was born in a refugee camp in Lebanon with all her siblings, so this is kind of dear to my heart. Everyone is outside of Gaza, but it’s still in your blood.”

Almost $8,000 was raised for the event, according to Chahrour, and their final fundraising goal is $25,000.

He said donations raised will be used for medical needs, supplies, and everything else of urgent need.

“When you're Palestinian by blood, you never forget it, even though I’ve been here my whole life, you’re still connected,” Chahrour added.

Michelle Emond, of Bradford, slowly made it into the icy water, but was much faster coming out of it.

“It’s exhilarating, because I’m numb to what is going on in the world,” she said as she suddenly broke down crying while her husband quickly tried to dry her off with a towel. “I just love the people coming together, and finally we’re seeing some humanity.”

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Kevin Lamb

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
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