Freezing plunges to raise funds

The water was five degrees Celsius when the group took a plunge off Salisbury Wharf earlier this week. Photo: John Borren

Five mount runners and mums, are plunging into cold waters every week this winter to raise money for Kenzie’s Gift.

As a charity organisation, Kenzie’s Gift supports young people and their families who’ve been affected by serious grief or illness to access mental health services.

The group of five runners – Josie Calcott, Nicola Wakerley, Leana Buxton, Jackie Webb and Amanda Shaw – had been “plunging” throughout summer, with each having a goal to plunge 52 times this year.

After Josie saw the winter swim challenge come up through her friend and founder of Kenzie’s Gift, Nic Russell, she put it to her friends. “They were all for it because they thought it was a great cause, so here we are,” says Josie.  “We are The ‘Coffee Rungers’, we ‘run’ first, then we ‘plunge’ and we like our coffee afterwards.”

At least twice-a-week, the group take on the chilly challenge at Pilot Bay to fundraise.

“It costs $2000 for a child to have 12 sessions of counselling,” says Josie. “Our initial goal of $2000 was minimal but when we were getting quite close to $1000 I think we decided that we can get higher than $2000, so that’s why we increased it to $4000.

“It’s only two kids, but hey two kids is better than nothing.”

Kenzie’s Gift founder Nic Russel lost her own daughter Kenzie at three years old after battling cancer. “[Nic’s] very, very special because of all the things she’s doing for others…and for children who are grieving,” says Josie. “She’s someone that’s soldiered on and kept on giving to others.”

After receiving fundraising support for her own health needs, Josie has been keen to support others. Needing cochlear implants to help her hear, Josie says: “I was very lucky and fortunate to have nearly $50,000 fundraised for me about several years ago and I really feel that desire to give back after what was done for me”.

During the time Josie and her team have been on their winter swim challenge, a friend known to the group lost the father of their children to illness.

“[Our friend’s] kids, who are about 13 and 15; they’ve just lost their dad and so it’s hit home,” says Josie. “It’s made it even more moving for us because we know there’s someone in amongst us whose kids are using it [Kenzie’s Gift’s counselling].”

The group has raised more than $3000 so far and will continue to plunge and raise funds for Kenzie’s Gift the rest of winter. Support them at:


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