A challenge that began as a local fundraiser for Lexington firefighter Joe Vissing has turned into a far-reaching chain reaction of donors and supporters.
The challenge, which involves getting doused in icy water, has been used as a way to help raise funds for Vissing, who is fighting cancer.
Now the chain has spread across the state, with Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton taking part.
“It’s crazy,” Vissing said. “I don’t even know who started it for me.”
Vissing himself was even called to do the challenge, which he completed.
When Melton was called to complete the Cold Water Challenge by Lexington Police Officer Brandon Muravchick, he said he immediately went to participate.
“It was just the right thing to do,” Melton said. “He’s in for the fight of his life right now.”
If the person challenged complies within 24 hours, he or she may make a $10 donation to the fund. If they fail to do it in that time, they are expected to donate $100.
Dozens of videos have been posted on Facebook and other social media outlets of different people, in Lexington and around the state, plunging in or getting doused in frigid water.
Vissing said he has been with the Lexington Fire Department for more than 16 years, but that he couldn’t expect what has been done for him.
“You just can’t put it into words,” Vissing said. “It’s all very humbling.”
Vissing said he has had calls from as far away as New York from people who have heard about what he is going through.
Melton said that the Cold Water Challenge is an effective way for money to be raised to help Vissing.
“It was unique,” Melton said. “You can take something and raise money and have fun.”
Muravchick, who is the coach of a Frankfort softball team, the Wizards, let his team help him complete the challenge.
The members of his young girl’s team, ages 6 and 7, poured pitchers filled with ice and water over his head.
“The girls had a ball with it. They were smiling and laughing the entire time,” Muravchick said.
The challenge is different from most fundraisers, and Muravchick said that fact would help the cause.
“It’s a great way to get involved and give money to a certain cause,” Muravchick said. “It’s a great way to motivate people to help.”
The Cold Water Challenge is not comfortable, he said.
“It was very cold and I couldn’t even catch my breath,” Muravchick said. “But it was well worth it for the cause.”
Donations can be made to the Joe Vissing Benefit Fund through any Chase Bank location.
Vissing said the support and prayers are helping him, and his family, get through a hard time.
“We’re going to get through this,” Vissing said. “We’re not going to sit back, we’re going to fight it and get through this.”