At the February 24th meeting, BEL Rotary recognized the many sponsors, volunteers and plungers who made this year's plunge such a success.  More than $40,000 was raised and the true benefactors are the charities the plungers supported.  Above is Jenna Gabourie, who raised the most money in the "Individual" category.  Everyone has their own reason for jumping: below is Jenna's story. 


"I have been jumping in the polar plunge for six years now. For the first four years I jumped for the Alzheimer's Unit at St Joseph's at Fleming twice, for the Friends of Honduran Children, and Make-A-Wish Foundation.  I chose  St Josephs at Fleming because my mom works there and I grew up knowing the patients. I chose Friends of Honduran Children because in high school I went on a building brigade there and I chose Make-A-Wish Foundation for my cousin with cerebral palsy who got his wish with there company. Usually I like to pick a different charity to spread the love around and I usually have my charity picked by the beginning of December and start pledging around Christmas or just before. Last year for my fifth year was the first year that I had this big feeling of indecisiveness about which to pick.


On Friday December 21st I worked late at my restaurant job at Montana's where I worked with Carley. Carley was off that night and a bunch of us were meeting downtown to have a drink and say goodbye to a staff member who was moving away. Carley decided to meet up with her cousins that night instead. On her way from her house in Cavan-Bethany to her cousins in Lindsay she hit a clearing of bad road where the wind gusts with a combination black ice, blowing snow, and a dark night resulted in Carley's car to be thrown across the road and she hit a family in a SUV head on. When the two cars collided, she was T boned from the passenger side and was declared brain dead at the scene. Carley was driving 40 that night because she hated driving in bad weather ironically. When her mother and her cousin had not heard of her after an hour they knew something was wrong. Because the weather was bad they could not air lift her so they drove by ambulance for two hours to get her to Toronto Sunnybrook Hospital. She was left in the hands of the Critical Care Unit, where they took amazing care of Carley and her family. She was left on life support until Saturday night so that they could save her heart valves right and left kidney and her corneas to give someone to miracle of sight.


At 8 o clock Saturday night Carley Marie Hartwick passed away at 20 years old. I knew then that I wasn't able to choose a charity because I was meant to do this for her, my guardian angel! Last year I got an award for raising the most amount of money in a group. I usually jump with my Aunt Stephanie and my younger Cousin Robyn. Together we raised $3,000, and this was my personal best yet as I raised over $1,500 myself! My money last year went to the Critical Care Unit at Sunnybrook  Hospital to go towards the family's and the patients to be more comfortable there. To go towards extra beds, blankets, cable tv for the families, shampoo, tooth paste and other little things that can help comfort families in a moment of need. I had vowed that from last year on my money was only going to go towards Carley's name and with the help of her family, they had now set up a couple different awards/scholarships in her name for her to live on."


Thank you to all who made the plunge such a success, and to you Jenna for sharing your inspirational story.