Taking the plunge: Lobster tank challenge raises $680K
'There have been people jumping off the stern of their boats, running off the beach into the water'
Anywhere there's a body of icy water in Nova Scotia right now, chances are it could be used to raise money for a worthy cause.
That's the attitude of a growing group of hardy Nova Scotians who've accepted the challenge to plunge into lobster holding tanks, the open ocean or ponds to raise money for charity.
"There have been people jumping off the stern of their boats, running off the beach into the water. A big box of icy water, they're plunging into that. Anything you want to do is fine," says Todd Newell, a southwest Nova Scotia lobster fisherman who took a dip in the holding tank aboard his boat.
He donated $1,000 to help out the families of four children who died in a Pubnico Head house fire in early January. Then he challenged others to do the same.
"It's taken off. There are businesses doing it. They're pledging money and if their employees jump in, they're pledging extra money … to different causes," Newell told CBC's Information Morning.
The total amount of money raised in the past month has exceeded $680,000. The donations are now being spread to a number of other causes in the area, Newell said.
He said he isn't sure of the exact number of people who've stepped up.
"But I specifically called out two or three of my close friends. I knew pretty much they would have to do it and then they challenged a couple friends. It kind of grew from there. I knew it would because I just know the people in this area," Newell said.
"We just come together in times like, unfortunately, what happened in Pubnico. Once it got rolling, people started having fun with it. Some of the videos are funny, some of them are heartwarming. It's a testament to the people of our area. They're generous, hardworking, salt-of-the-earth, good people."
The plunge is not for the faint of heart, and that's where the challenge is, Newell said.
"There's only one way to describe it: It's cold! It's a cold shock — it kind of takes your breath away. About 37 Fahrenheit, two or three degrees Celsius."
He said people who want to help don't have to brave the cold water.
"You don't have to jump in a well, you don't have to do anything. If anyone wants to donate ... that's what it's all about," he said.
"You don't even have to donate money. You can go visit a relative you haven't seen for a while or go to the hospital or buy someone's coffee."