ORLANDO (AIP) – The Buddhist Monk Challenge, a national crazy that has raised millions for charity, has found its way to Orlando’s Conway Elementary School, where principal Harold Fuchs filmed himself challenging all other Orange County Elementary principals to ‘do this or donate’ then dumped an ice bucket of aviation fuel over his head and flicked a Bic lighter.
“It was way cool,” said third grader Mary Ann Kotchman. “I think it’s great that Mr. Harold would writhe like that for charity.”
“His screams were awesome,” said a laughing Conner Martin, fourth grade class president. “I still can’t believe a human can actually scream that loud. I hope all the other principals do it too.”
Nationwide the craze has raised over $14 million for charity. Milton Freemanson, whose company Flashpoint Productions helps local organizations stage Buddhist Monk Challenges around the country, explained the concept.
“Buddhist monks in Vietnam during the war first came up with the idea,” said Freemanson. “Local celebrities, television personalities, firefighters, police chiefs, just about anyone can do it. All it takes is a bucket of high octane aviation fuel, reliable lighter and steel nerves.
“We film participants as they make the verbal challenge for others to either do it themselves or donate at least 28 percent of their yearly salary to charity. We’ve raised huge amounts of money.”
So far nationwide over 400 challenge takers have perished, while at least 27 remain in burn units at various hospitals around the country, mostly with extremely poor chances for survival.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Freemanson. “The kids love to watch. Almost everyone thinks it’s a wonderful idea.”