Dental professionals are cooling off this summer by getting ice-cold water dumped over their heads – not just for a good laugh, but also to raise awareness and funds for someone battling cancer.
This year the Cold Water Challenge has gone viral online, with individuals and groups finding creative ways to be doused in cold water as a way of pledging to donate funds to charity.
The challenge works like a chain, with each person participating in the challenge passing it along by nominating more people to participate. Nominees typically get 24 hours to complete the challenge and donate funds.
In the Summerville area dental professionals are participating, but have put a special twist on the challenge: the proceeds are going to a dental hygienist in Mt. Pleasant who is fighting breast cancer and is unable to work at this time.
The fundraising site was created by Amy Hungerford, a Summerville resident whose husband Kyle is fighting Large B Cell Lymphoma.
“My kids raise money every year for a non-profit called Chase After a Cure, which I was the development administrator for,” Amy Hungerford said, adding the non-profit raises funds for the pediatric oncology lab at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the hospital where her husband is being treated.
The Hungerfords decided they wanted to try to find an adult who was living with the same scenario of having to pay bills while battling cancer.
“Everyone always thinks of cancer as this big battle and this heroic challenge of just conquering the disease,” she said. “To the patient I think it’s also about what goes on behind the scenes, like how do you pay your medical bills, your electric bill, how to keep your family together, the transportation costs, food costs, hotels, housing…sometimes insurance covers it and sometimes they don’t – and if you can’t work you don’t have insurance.”
The Hungerfords heard of a dental hygienist in Mt. Pleasant named Keelie Gilden, who was in a situation where she is battling breast cancer and has not been able to work since June. They decided to raise funds for her to help her out.
They started a blog and a fundraiser and all the money goes directly into Gilden’s account. The goal was to raise $7,500, a figure that’s already been surpassed.
Britt and Greer Reagin are friends of the Hungerfords and offered to help with raising funds by participating in the “#chillin4charity” campaign for breast cancer.
Britt Reagin is an orthodontist at Reagin Orthodontics in Summerville.
On July 28 Reagin Orthodontics posted a video to its Facebook page. The video features Reagin sitting in a chair outside his office building, backed by office staff.
In the video Reagin explains he has volunteered to have ice-cold water dumped on him, and announces he would be donating $150 in order to help Gilden. He then challenges 10 other area dental professionals with the task; nominees are given 48 hours and have the option of participating and donating $150 or skipping the challenge and donating $300 instead.
The videos are hashtagged “chillin4charity” and “roadtorecovery.”
“What got us fired up with this charity is: we always love to give back in our community,” Reagin said, “but it was especially inspiring to see somebody who is battling cancer want to reach out and help someone else who is battling cancer. Kyle was very adamant about wanting to help this woman with very limited resources.”
The Hungerfords are both widowed, with each losing their first spouses to cancer. Amy Hungerford said they find this fundraiser as “ a step forward.”
“Having cancer in general is very overwhelming,” she said. “Having to take some financial burden off of someone is such a relief.”
Kyle Hungerford participated in one challenge himself by dumping cold water on another dental professional. Amy Hungerford would like to expand the challenge to other area professions, like real estate.
The Reagins are finding that many challengers are participating and donating the full $300 instead of $150. In one week the site for Gilden raised more than $8,000. More people are still being challenged – and Britt Reagin even did an encore challenge to nominate six more dental professionals. They have challenged dentists with offices in North Charleston, Goose Creek, West Ashley, downtown Charleston and more.
“I got cooled down,” Reagin said. “I think it was fun to have the whole office team participate in it.
“It was a definitely a neat way to bring the dental community together. It just seemed appropriate that we would take this and try to send it throughout the dental community. We just like to give back. It feels good when you help other people. I quote this all the time but the best way to make yourself happy is to make someone else happy.”
Kyle Hungerford’s story can be found at http://whateverdoesntkillus.com/about/. Gilden’s fundraising site is https://www.crowdrise.com/realityontheroadtorecovery/fundraiser/amyhungerford.