CAPE SABLE ISLAND, N.S. – Last season’s Live Well Challenge Take the Plunge is one for the books of the southwestern Nova Scotia lobster fishery.
Initiated by Cape Sable Island lobster fisherman Todd Newell in January on social media as a way to help the families affected by a house fire in Pubnico on Jan. 7 that claimed the lives of four young children, Newell challenged a few fellow fishermen to jump in their live wells and pledge $1,000 to charities of their choice in memory of a loved one.
He had hoped to get 100 other fishing captains to take part, videotaping their dips into the icy waters of a live well, each donating $1,000 to charity of choice.
Within two weeks, more than 700 people from throughout the Maritimes and beyond had taken up the challenge, raising upwards of $700,000 for numerous charitable causes, and nominating others across Canada and the U.S. to do the same. One dip took place in Australia.
From jumping into freezing cold live well holding units on boats, to a dive off the top of a wheelhouse or the stern of a boat into the local harbour, to backflips into an onshore lobster holding tank, participation came from virtually every sector of the lobster-fishing industry, as well as the fishing industry at large.
Men, women, children, sports teams, business owners, corporate and government employees and politicians took the plunge in one way or another. Some put their own spin on the challenge, diving into swimming pools, chopping ice to take a river dip, getting hosed down in a car wash, even splashing into a bubble bath, all for fun and charity.
Some local students got in on the fun with a read well challenge.
The pay-it-forward movement captured the attention, imagination and generosity of people far and wide.
Newell estimates more than $1 million was raised for countless charities with more than 1,000 people participating.
“I never thought it would go that far,” said Newell, thanking everyone who participated.
“I hope they felt half the pride I felt,” he said, adding the way everyone in rural communities looks out for each other and pulls together is “why I love living in a small town.”
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