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Volunteering can lead to many opportunities, some ‘cooler’ than others

Published: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:37 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2014 12:05 p.m. CDT

A few weeks ago, I spoke on my affection for public speaking. Something else I’ve really come to enjoy, and want to do more of, is volunteering. However, for some reason, when it comes to volunteering outdoors, my timing is just terrible.

Two weeks ago, at the Jasper County Relay for Life ceremony, I was one of the many people who volunteered to be in the dunk tank. Since I was also covering the event, I scheduled my shift for later in the evening. If you recall, the low that day was 50 and the high was about 75 degrees.

So, as you can imagine, by the time I got in the tank around 8:30 p.m., not only was the water freezing, but the air was starting to get a bit nippy. Still, I remained somewhat hopeful that all of the prior dunk tank victims — I mean volunteers — had warmed the water up enough that it wouldn’t affect me so much.

Armed with my illogical wishful thinking on the matter, I decided to ham it up and go full-scale super villain to attract a bigger crowd for my line. With the events co-MC Marshall Critchfield serving as my interviewer, I got on the microphone and delivered a diabolical, boo rendering, WWE style monologue that Ric Flair and ’80s action movie villains would approve of.

I essentially told the crowd there wasn’t a single person in H.A. Lynn Stadium capable of hitting the target to dunk me, and that I would be just as dry at the end of the night as I was at the beginning of it.

I may have even personally challenged a Vietnam veteran, a kid with broken fingers and an 82-year-old cancer survivor to do their worst. (Note: This was all done in jest).

After all my trash talking, and having Marshall repeatedly broadcast that I was going in the tank, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the results. By the time I arrived back at the tank, the line seemed to resemble that of a popular ride at a theme park.

I looked over at how soaked Nathan Unsworth was sitting on the tank’s platform, and I realized I was truly about to pay the piper for all of my trash talk. He and I swapped places, and he let me know just how cold the water was and how much fun I was going to have freezing.

As I looked down at the line, the aforementioned Vietnam veteran, Paul Brown, was first in line, and he had a $20. If I recall, it was like $1 or $2 per throw. So as I got ready to embrace my upcoming cold, cold faith, I studied the line and saw so many familiar faces. There was Dot, the 82-year-old I was trading barbs with, the kid with the broken fingers (who went four for four when throwing at Nathan), a lot of other eager kids and my treacherous colleague, Zach Johnson.

The next half hour of my life became of blur of me heckling the thrower followed by me going under water, mouth agape and sampling the refreshing tastes that the slobber and tears the four previous men left for me in the tank.

Although I was freezing, I took satisfaction in being able to sacrifice my body’s warmth and taste buds to aide cancer research. I was also pleased to see that many of the small children had better arms than Zach, who somehow never managed to hit the target — he literally just bum rushed the bulls eye for his dunks.

When it was all said and done, I couldn’t stop shaking from the cold. This however, didn’t stop me from eating some free frozen custard from Culver’s. With my body temperature already being low, this was a terrible idea but it was, I repeat, “FREE FROZEN CUSTARD.”

While the weather wasn’t ideal for getting wet, my all-time record for cold volunteering took place when Zach, Chris Chartier and I bell rung for the Salvation Army on Christmas Eve last year. The recorded low that day was -14, not including wind chill.

In actuality, my dunk tank adventure should be considered a “warm up.”

I’ve also found myself sweating up a storm on multiple occasions, getting destroyed by grannies on a basketball court and being chased by children, all while seeking to perform a good deed.

Volunteering is an easy way to give back, and it’s a lot easier than public speaking — I still can’t fathom the fear of it. Another bonus of volunteering: On what other occasion can you trash talk a child, a vet and a senior citizen, and it’s all in good fun?

Senior staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at

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