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East Alabama first responders complete "Cold Water Challenge" fo - abc27 WHTM

East Alabama first responders complete "Cold Water Challenge" for charity

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CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. - Some east Alabama firefighters turned the hoses on themselves this week.

It's part of the Cold Water Challenge, and the firefighters are spreading it through Facebook videos.

"Hi, I'm Gary Sparks, chief of the Oxford Fire Department," Sparks read from a piece of paper as he stood beneath a hose on a ladder truck.

"I've been challenged by assistant chief Mark McElroy of the Talladega Fire Department, to take the Cold Water Challenge and donate $20 to the National Firefighter Foundation.  I accept this challenge."

The person then challenges five other people to soak themselves in cold water within the next 24 hours.  The person names a charity -- in Sparks' case, the OFD Muscular Dystrophy Association drive -- and the people challenged have 24 hours to participate and make a donation, or not participate and donate $100 to the charity.

Sparks challenged his assistant chief, Ben Stewart.

"I paid up on my challenge, gave my $20, and I would say it's the best $20 I've spent to a good cause," Stewart said.

Sparks also named the Jacksonville fire chief, who in turn challenged some Anniston firefighters.  They filled a portable hydrant pool with water and ice, and about a dozen firefighters jumped in at once.

"We believe in team efforts and doing things and pushing for a common goal.  That's why we wanted to do this today, together," Anniston training officer Johnnie Phelps said.

Each of the Anniston firefighters contributed $10 to a fund set up for Anniston police office Jay Harrington.  He was diagnosed with leukemia a few weeks ago.

"For us, that's real close to home and it's something we want to support.  If this is something silly and fun that we can do to help boost that fundraiser for him, then we'll do it all day long," Phelps said.

He challenged Anniston police officers and other city employees to participate as well.  Anniston police captain Allen George and several officers completed their task Friday afternoon, and challenge police in Oxford and Weaver, as well as the Calhoun County sheriff's and district attorney's office.

The Anniston police challenge asked participants to support Abby Usher, a local elementary school student who is also battling leukemia.  Other firefighters are raising money for relay for life.

"These are all good charities and even if you are not challenged to do a firefighter challenge or cold water challenge, whatever you want to call it, think about giving to those charities because they all do a great job," Chief Sparks said.

For videos of a dozen different Oxford firefighters and city council member Charlotte Hubbard completing the challenge, visit the Oxford Fire Department's Facebook page.  Many other fire departments have similar videos on their Facebook pages.
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