KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Being told to “go jump in a lake” is usually a snarky kiss-off. But it’s become a heartwarming call-to-action for a Missouri community whose effort to help the family of a 5-month-old boy with cancer has inspired thousands across the country to submerge themselves in cold bodies of water.
Organizers of the Facebook-based Plunge for Landon fundraiser said they have lost count of how many people have posted videos of themselves taking a dive for Landon Shaw, a Tarkio infant who was diagnosed in late February with a rare form of cancer. People are jumping in, from chilly farm ponds north of Kansas City to the Gulf of Mexico and the Potomac River in Washington, D.C.
“I can’t believe how viral this is going,” said Alyssa Shaw, Landon’s mom. “My son has been such an inspiration to everybody and opened up people’s eyes that you can’t take life for granted.”
Before they jump into the water, participants record themselves challenging three other people to do the same, with monetary pledges for each person who completes the challenge. The effort had raised more than $30,000 by Friday evening, only five days after notice of the fundraiser was first posted on the popular social networking site.
Entire schools, police departments and businesses around the region have posted videos of participants taking the plunge.
Landon was 4 months old on Feb. 23 when his parents took him to Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City to find out why he was vomiting and losing weight. Doctors found a tumor on his left kidney, which they removed, and later discovered a large mass on his brain.
Landon’s heart stopped during an operation to remove the brain tumor, his mother said, and he lost so much blood that doctors gave the family little hope their baby would survive.