Students Consider Cold Water Challenge Risks

Mallory Kaster, Senior Staff Writer

“I think it’s a fun challenge, but for the wrong purpose.”Rachael Shilbuaer

NDA senior Rachael Shilbauer seems to share the thoughts of many others in regards to the Cold Water Challenge, a new trend on social media.

The challenge began as a worthy cause. Here’s how it’s supposed to work.

First, you do the challenge. This means jumping in a river, lake, pond, pool or anything else with water, generally in colder weather. You then nominate three people to do the challenge within the next 24 hours.

If those you nominated succeeded in the challenge, you donated money to a charity of your choice. Those you nominated would then nominate others, and the cycle would continue.

Great idea, right? Of course! It’s an idea that says, “I will freeze if it means raising money for a worthy cause.” The challenge was meant to be safe and fun and ultimately help out greatly.

However, many things have gone wrong with the challenge.

First of all, those who do the challenge are nominating others, and saying, “You have 24 hours to do this or you have to donate!”

Excuse me? This is a completely wrong idea. First of all, and I’m sure I share this thought with many others, I would rather donate money to charity than freeze.

Second of all, people are becoming too pressured and ultimately hurting themselves just so they don’t have to donate.

One of these victims was 16-year-old Kayla Jacob of Lamartine, WI, whose story was told in a recent Green Bay Press Gazette article.

According to the Press Gazette, Jacob was fishing on the point at Lakeside Park when she was nominated for the challenge from a Facebook friend.

“Since I was out there by the lake I thought I might as well just get this over and go for it,” Jacob said.

However, this decision resulted in some serious injuries for the Laconia High School junior.

Jacob landed on a clump of razor-sharp zebra mussel shells, splitting open her knee and damaging muscles and ligaments and rupturing her meniscus.

Now she will be out for the rest of her high school softball season as well as the summer softball season and cross-country season this fall.

Many other teens are not being careful about where, when, and with whom they are jumping.

If you are going to do the challenge and follow through with the original intent, props to you. However, keep in mind that you need to choose a location deep enough, one thing a west Michigan man wishes he would’ve done.


The man became paralyzed from the waist down after he accepted the challenge and dove into Grey Lake, hitting his head.

Also don’t choose to take the challenge in the dark.

“A nighttime rescue of someone who’s missing in the water is complicated many times over because rescuers rely on vision,” Fond du Lac Fire Department Assistant Chief Todd Janquart said.

Also make sure someone else is with you when you perform the challenge. Jacob was lucky her brother was there when she jumped.

Finally, remember the intent of the challenge. It’s not, “Jump so you don’t have to donate.” It’s, “Jump so the person who nominated you donates, then nominate more people so you can donate.”

If all the rules are followed, this is a great challenge with a great mission.