You remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? The goofy YouTube trend where people dumped buckets of ice water over their heads in order to raise money for ALS research? Well, the fad ended up raising over $115 million in charitable donations, which is largely credited as the financial drive behind the most recent breakthrough in treating the awful disease.
Now, there is a different kind of challenge that is raising thousands of dollars for ALS research: the Hot Pepper Challenge.
Andrew Rea is the host behind the popular YouTube cooking show Binging With Babish. The YouTuber made a video about his Hot Pepper Challenge idea last week because one of Rea’s earliest subscribers and fans, Garmt van Soest, passed away from ALS in late October.
“He reached out when I only had a few thousand subscribers, offering me encouragement, ideas, and inspiring words,” says Rea. “He started fundraisers, spoke at events, and continually inspired and enlivened everyone around him, including myself.”
So when Rea got a text from Van Soest saying goodbye, he was heartbroken; but he also felt spurred to do something positive in memory of his friend.
“I saw him take the Ice Bucket Challenge back in 2014, and that was a huge movement that everybody participated in to help raise funds and awareness for ALS. So I thought why not take that in a different direction?” says Rea.
“The ‘hot thing’ right now, so to speak, is to eat super spicy peppers on camera. So, why don’t we put some purpose behind all this pain that we’re putting ourselves through and create the Hot Pepper Challenge?”
Rea then posted a video of himself eating a ghost pepper – the second hottest pepper in the world next to the Carolina Reaper – to kick off the challenge.
The host says that it works similarly to the Ice Bucket Challenge: if you participate, you nominate three of your friends to eat a hot pepper. If they refuse to do it, then they’re encouraged to donate to ALS research. The spicier the pepper, the less you’re pressured to donate.
Rea also created a GoFundMe campaign for the challenge’s proceeds, which has already raised roughly $19,000 over the course of a week.
“I hope that this will help raise funds and awareness for the ALS Association, a great organization doing important work researching the disease,” says Rea. “Moreover, I hope that I can play a small part in helping to spread Garmt’s message of strength and hope.”
(WATCH the video of Rea’s Hot Pepper Challenge below)
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