By Mike Baker
Century 21 realtor Brandon Nimigon needs help from the local community if he is to avoid an uncomfortable 60-second dip in the frigid waters of Head Lake.
The second-annual Jump in the Lake Challenge is taking place on May 1. Organized by fellow realtors Dean Michel and Jennifer Bacon, the inaugural event raked in more than $15,000 for the Coboconk Food Bank, with a handful of further donations made to other local causes, including the Minden Food Bank.
“Last year, when the pandemic hit, we kind of had this sense that the community was going to be in great need. So, thinking a little outside the box, I said if I could raise $500 I would jump into Balsam Lake,” Michel said. “Then I said if we could raise $1,000, Jenny would jump in the lake too.”
The initiative went viral, raising more than $3,000 within a few days. Then Michel started to hear from other individuals, who wanted to do more than just give some money.
“We heard from all kinds of people who wanted to jump into a lake too. Without even thinking too much about it, the event just snowballed. In the end we had 20 different people jumping into six or seven lakes, from Sturgeon Lake all the way up to Horseshoe Lake,” he said. “Everyone filmed videos, and there were some amazing submissions. The best? An older lady, she jumped into the Rosedale River. People were watching from the bridge on Hwy. 35. This lady was in her 70s, but she tied a rope to herself, put a life jacket on and then had someone film her running up the pier and into the water. It was awesome.”
For Michel, there was zero hesitation when it came time to renew the event for a second year. Now he just wants to make it bigger and better.
That’s where Nimigon comes in. As a colleague of Michel’s, Brandon had heard all about the success of the first Jump in the Lake Challenge. When Dean threw down the gauntlet, issuing a challenge to see who could raise the most money, Brandon was all in.
“Dean asked if the company could get involved a little bit more, and I thought that was a great idea. I said right away that we would help out in any way that we could. Then, all of a sudden, he made this side bet with me to turn this into the 60-second challenge – whoever raises the most money gets the win, and the loser has to not only jump into a lake, but has to hang out in there for a minute,” Nimigon said. “I’m not one to turn down a challenge, so I said let’s go for it.”
Dean’s chosen cause this time around is the Coboconk Wellness Centre. Not yet built, the facility will cost $7 million to construct. Thus far, the City of Kawartha Lakes has committed $1.5 million towards the build, while the Coboconk community has promised to raise $1 million. Dean is aiming to raise $25,000 himself through this challenge.
Nimigon will be raising funds for SIRCH Community Services.
“I wanted to do something a little more local for where we are, and SIRCH is a fantastic organization that does so much for our community,” Nimigon said.
When asked how much he hoped to raise, Nimigon said “I’m just trying to beat Dean! If it’s $10 more than Dean, then I’m happy.”
Unlike organized polar bear dips that typically happen in one central location, the Jump in the Lake Challenge promotes social distancing and takes place off each participant’s dock, or waterfront location of their choosing. To join the challenge as a participant or a donor, visit kawarthalakeside.com.