The Cold Water Challenge is sweeping across Northeast Michigan.
Videos of people plunging into the recently thawed bodies of water for charity are popping up on Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds, as people are being called to task to complete the dare, or donate to a favorite charity.
The challenge began as a fundraising ploy and has taken on a life of its own. It has been copied by numerous groups and individuals who are willing to brave the frigid water to make a difference. It also is being done to watch friends and family squirm when they are nominated to take part. Once nominated a person has 24 hours to complete the plunge, or pay $100 to a charity of their choosing. They can then nominate three people to do the same via social media. There are other variations that require pledges to be taken before the feat is done.
News Photo by Steve Schulwitz
Heather Hammermeister, left, and Brice Giet just completed the 2014 Cold Water Challenge Monday. The challenge requires people to jump in local bodies of water or donate $100 to a charity of their choice. Many who have taken part still donate and nominate three others to fulfill the challenge.
Danielle Streich lives in Rogers City and was nominated to take the challenge by her friend Julie Heinzel. The two decided it would be fun and did it May 1 in Lake Huron behind the Little League fields in Rogers City. She said, although she completed the challenge, she also made a donation to Autism Speaks. Streich said although the water was shockingly cold, it was exciting to take part and to contribute to a worthy cause.
"I figured, why not do it? It is kind of neat, a little daring and is for a good cause," Streich said. "I have issued the challenge to three others and none of them have done it yet, but one did make their donation."
Huron Humane Society Manager Natalie Francis said there have been several donations presented to the shelter from those who have or have not taken part in the challenge. She said now she has been nominated. Francis and some friends will complete the challenge before the 24 hour deadline passes Monday. She said she won't chicken out and that she plans on making a donation to a charity even though she is going to brave the cold water.
"We're doing it as sort of a dare, but we are also going to donate," Francis said. "I think it is a great way to get people involved and have a little fun in helping to make a difference. The shelter has benefited from it and I think other charities have as well, so it is a good thing."
Although the challenge was intended to benefit charities, it has morphed into a way for people to mess with friends and put them on the spot. Dan Bouchard said one of his friends did it and challenged him. He said instead of receiving grief about not doing it, it was just easier to jump in Hubbard Lake. Now he is waiting for them to accept or deny the challenge.
"If you don't want to get picked on by your friends for the next year, you better do it," Bouchard said. "If you think you can handle the harassment then don't do it. I have issued challenges and am still waiting to hear back from them, but if they choose not to do it you know I will be razzing them hard for the next year."
Mark Szoboszlay, officer in charge at the United States Coast Guard station in Alpena said he is aware of the challenge and doesn't recommend doing it. He said the current water temperatures could be threatening to someone's health if they just jump in.
"My take is this. It is dangerous and not a good idea to do. The current water temperature is 40 degrees or lower and it could cause you to slip into shock. Hyporthermia is a risk as well. There are all sorts of medical issues that could arise," Szoboszlay said. "There are a lot of other ways people can donate to charity that aren't dangerous and putting people at risk. It isn't illegal to do, but I wouldn't recommend someone to do it."
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com