STUART, FL (WFLX) - There is a bone-chilling trend taking hold in South Florida with aims of earning donation dollars. Some Treasure Coast firefighters are taking on a viral video challenge and braving the very cold to raise big bucks for charity.
Some off-duty Martin County Fire Rescue personnel at Station 22 in Stuart are tackling what's called the Cold Water Challenge.
Some of the firefighters have been voluntarily submerging themselves in water that is hovering just above thirty degrees.
"Feels like little pins and needles are poking you and it's really the ice cubes," said Firefighter Kevin Wiggins. He is among a growing number of firefighters - and Americans - taking on the Cold Water Challenge. "A lot of people are doing it," he said. Wiggins and some of his fellow crew members say they are not just posting these videos on social media for fun.
Many of them are on a mission to raise money for what's called Operation 300, a local non-profit camp for kids who have lost their fathers as a result of service to our country. The foundation is in honor of Aaron Vaughn, an Elite Navy SEAL killed when his chopper went down in Afghanistan in 2011.
Vaughn was one of Wiggin's best friends. "I like getting out there helping people and making a difference," said Wiggins.
The rules of the Cold Water Challenge are simple. If you are 'challenged' by someone to take part, you have an option. You can jump into a bone-chilling water and pay $20 to the charity or your choice or decide against taking the plunge and donate $50 to the charity.
These off-duty Martin County Fire Rescue firefighters say what they are doing is good, clean fun. They say they have hundreds of dollars in new donations to prove it.
There is a warning about the Cold Water Challenge from authorities in other states. Water that is too cold can cause hypothermia in just a few minutes. One challenger in Michigan broke several bones after jumping into a shallow lake.
Operation 300's most important fundraiser, the Frogman Swim, will be held June 28. To learn more, click here.