News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 22, 2014

COLD WATER CHALLENGE: Getting wet for a cause

Money raised for Terre Haute’s Soggy Donuts Fund

TERRE HAUTE — Thursday was a pleasant day to get wet, especially from the spray of a fire hose.

To the delight of spectators, 35 people from the law firm of Fleschner Stark Tanoos and Newlin took the Cold Water Challenge to raise funds for an organization that helps emergency services personnel affected by disaster.

“It was cold water, but it was worth it,” said Rachel Roeschlein, FSTN human resources manager, noting that about $500 was raised for the Soggy Donuts Fund.

The entire firm embraced the event, she said, after an employee presented a request to use the grassy area  behind the firm’s office at Walnut and Harding streets to do the challenge. From there, the idea grew to use a fire truck as a water source for the challenge.

The Cold Water Challenge is a social media phenomenon in which people somehow — by swimming pool, buckets of water, pond or other sources — get submerged or doused with cold water and then issue a challenge to another individual or group to do the same. It is usually tied to fundraising, and the challenge must be completed within 24 hours, or the people challenged must contribute funds to an organization of the challenger’s choice. A video of the water fun must be posted online, as well.

To add fun to Thursday’s challenge, the participants did a skit in which the FSTN staff were in the grassy lot around a fire in a container. Terre Haute Fire Chief Jeff Fisher arrived with a reserve fire truck and told the group they would have to extinguish the fire because it is against local ordinance to have an open fire inside city limits.

The group complied using a fire hose, but then turned the hose on Fisher and each other, and even the spectators.

“We briefed everyone prior to the skit so there were no head shots with the water,” Fisher said. Normally when fighting a fire, the water pressure is about 150 pounds, but for the challenge, the pressure was only 60 pounds and the water spray was diffused.

Additional dousings occurred of Fisher and police officer Brad Newman, who is an organizer and president of the Soggy Donut Fund, a not-for-profit organization born out of the 2008 flooding that hit the Wabash Valley.

Several first responders were affected by the 2008 flooding, losing their homes and all belongings. Since emergency relief often takes about 96 hours to be organized on the state and federal levels, it is up to local people to take care of those in crisis, Newman said. For emergency responders who are trained to help other people, having their own families affected by the crisis was particularly difficult.

To bridge the gap between the time of the disaster and when outside assistance arrives, a group led by Newman met and founded the Soggy Donuts Fund to have money available to provide housing and basic necessities for emergency responders affected by disaster. The name “soggy” comes from the flooding, and the “donuts” comes from the joke about cops liking donuts, Newman explained.

Last year, the fund was used to assist an area firefighter’s family when their home was destroyed by fire, leaving the family with several children homeless. This year, thankfully, the fund has not been used, Newman said but fundraisers have been building it up.

“A lot of people will never know what it means to need those funds,” Newman said. “It takes a couple of weeks to organize an event like this challenge. Imagine if you lost everything in a flood or fire, and how long it would take to put your stuff back together.”

The challenge was passed on to three organizations in the community, which have been given a week to organize their own challenge or donate to Soggy Donuts.

Called out were Mayor Duke Bennett’s office and everyone in City Hall, all of the Vigo County Courthouse offices and employees, and the Terre Haute office of Eye Care Express on the city’s south side.

“It’s gotta be cold water, and they have to be as creative as they can get,” Roeschlein said.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.


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