N.S. fisherman issues chilly challenge to raise money for families of fire victims

The captain of the lobster boat Ted's Legacy wants to raise money for families who lost their children in a horrific fire in Pubnico Head earlier this month. His challenge is not for the faint of heart.

Fundraiser involves jump in icy, water-filled lobster tank

Todd Newell, a southwest Nova Scotia lobster fisherman, issued a challenge involving a dip in the icy water of a lobster tank to raise money for the survivors of a tragic Pubnico Head fire. (CBC)

A southwest Nova Scotia fisherman has taken the ice bucket challenge and upped the ante to raise funds for victims of a horrific fire earlier this month in Pubnico Head, N.S.

Instead of emptying a bucket of cold water over your head, Todd Newell's challenge involves immersing your entire body in icy water. Specifically, numbingly cold water found in the lobster holding tank of his fishing boat, Ted's Legacy.

"Take a dip, make a difference," says the West Head man.

From left to right, Mason, 7, Mya, 7, Jayla, 4 and four-month-old Winston, died in a house fire in Pubnico Head on Jan. 7. (Submitted by Ryan Cook)

It's a community of tough people, he says, adding his late father, for whom his boat is named, was the toughest man he ever knew.

"I had an idea: I'll put a challenge out. I know the men of this community — they're not scared of any challenge. I decided to donate $1,000, jump in the well. I figured it would take off," Newell said.

"I challenged a couple of good friends of mine. They challenged a few friends and it's kind of escalated from there."

The lid is open and the water ready for the next brave person to jump in. The challenge is a fundraising effort for the families who lost their children in a house fire in Pubnico Head earlier this month. (CBC)

So far, the challenge has raised $15,000. That figure rose to $16,000 when Newell volunteered to chip in an extra $1,000 if CBC News reporter Colleen Jones took the challenge while covering the story. She took the dare and plunged into the lobster hold, where the water was three degrees.

"I thought it would be fitting for the community. It's a fishing community," he said.

A funeral for two of the four children who died in the fire, Winston and Jayla, is being held Tuesday at the Yarmouth Wesleyan Church, and the funeral for a third young victim, Mason, will be on Monday at the same church. A service for the fourth victim, Mya, will take place on Sunday at H.M. Huskilson's Memorial Chapel in Barrington.

Winston and Jayla's mother, Emma Kennedy, and Winston and Mya's father, Phil Prouty, escaped the fire. Prouty, a lobster fisherman, was seriously injured and hospitalized.

CBC News reporter Colleen Jones accepts a last-minute dare to jump into the holding tank on a lobster fishing boat. Her plunge raised $1,000 for a local fundraiser. (CBC)

The provincial fire marshal's office continues to investigate the fire and has no information yet to release about the cause, said a spokesperson for the Municipal Affairs Department. 

The money from the challenge is going to the families of the Pubnico fire victims and also to a memorial fund for Carmen Huskilson, a young girl in the community who died in 2016.

"Her parents wanted a 'pay it forward' fund set up with the proceeds donated to worthy causes," Newell said.

Ted's Legacy is the fishing boat that contains the lobster hold where the challenge is taking place. (CBC)

With files from Colleen Jones