By JESSICA SHACKLETON
The annual Lola’s Dip fundraiser took place at Woodbine Beach on Sunday, Oct. 22, in support of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. The dip encouraged hundreds of attendees to plunge into Lake Ontario while raising money and socializing with the community.
The event is to honour Lola Bower, who lived for 16 days in 2015. Her birthday is Oct. 23 and the event is always held as close to the day as possible.
Her family has continued to honour her memory every year since. In previous years, they did a walk but began Lola’s Dip in 2021.
Along with the dip itself, there were speeches, food, a sauna, and songs at Sunday’s event.
Lola’s older sister, Mar, who is almost 11, wrote and performed an original song in Lola’s honour. By the end of the song, the crowd was singing and waving along.
“[The dip] is to honour Lola, raise money for SickKids, and create community,” her dad, Geoff, said in front of attendees.
“When you feel like you’re not alone, you can get through anything.”
He echoed this by telling ‘dippers’ to encourage those around them as they went into Lake Ontario. It was a clear, sunny, Sunday but the lake water was still chilly.
Local realtor Shea Warrington of Shea Sells Boutique has sponsored the event for three years and knows the family and their story. She has four kids and can only imagine what the family went through.
“It’s inspiring to push yourself to do something that’s hard,” said Warrington who was not only a sponsor but also took part in the dip into the lake. “If they can endure that, I can endure a cold swim.”
Lola’s Dip is important for many reasons. Lola’s mom, Ofelia, said it shows a different phase of grief.
“People think of grief as something we need to fix,” she said. “Grief is just love. It’s a celebration of love and that we’re lucky to be alive right now and not take it for granted.”
The turnout for this year’s event was so high that it was hard to even count the number of participants. Last year, the number was around 300. Over the years, the number of participants in and support for Lola’s Dip has grown organically.
“Gratitude. We’re just incredibly grateful to everyone in the Beaches, everyone that participated,” said Ofelia.
After singing Happy Birthday to Lola and blowing bubbles, the dip began.
With the sun shimmering over the lake, everyone ran into the water together. Some just did a quick dip while others bobbed out further for a while.
“Water makes you feel alive. When we come together it makes it easier to go through it,” said Ofelia.
Sunday’s event raised more than $50 000 for SickKids while also celebrating Lola’s legacy and bringing the community together.
For donation information and to learn more about Lola, please visit: https://fundraise.sickkidsfoundation.com/lola