Sweating through a blaze is not hot enough for volunteer firefighter Dave McCloskey.
The Coquitlam dad is in the midst of eating some of the hottest foods on the planet — all for charity.
On three consecutive Saturdays, Dec. 5, 12 and 19, at 7 p.m., McCloskey is inviting folks to watch him live on Facebook while he eats foods with blisteringly-high Scoville counts.
But surviving this human feat isn’t the only aim, McCloskey hopes people will also support him by donating to Share Family and Community Services through the canadahelps.org website.
“It’s a hard time of year and I want to spread laughter and cheer. I know that people like to see people do silly things and have a laugh,” said McCloskey.
He got the idea from watching YouTube videos of people eating spicy foods and thought he’d surprise his son on his 15th birthday by eating an extremely hot chip.
The One Chip Challenge, with a Scoville count of two million compared to 8,000 for a jalapeño pepper, was so hilarious, at least for those watching, McCloskey is remounting the challenge for the holiday season.
Starting with a Lil Nitro gummy bear at nine million on the Scoville scale, McCloskey will eat progressively hotter snacks until he gets to the Tube of Terror, a tube of peanuts that have been coated in pepper dust and 13 million Scoville capsaicin crystals.
The idea is to not seek relief until the heat dissipates.
So far, people are paying attention. On his first night, McCloskey said he raised roughly $2,400 for the food bank.
McCloskey, who has been a member of the volunteer Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department for 11 years and grew up in Coquitlam, says he’s doing the spicy food challenge to remind his children about what’s important at a time COVID-19 driven increasingly more families to the local food bank.
His own mom and dad are at Hawthorne Seniors Care Community in Port Coquitlam, the site of two COVID-19 outbreaks, which is preventing them from seeing their family. But McCloskey said his parents are doing well, all things considered, and have inspired him by being hard-working and charitable members of the community.
In fact, his dad, Tom, was Santa at Lougheed Mall and Surrey Place for 30 years, retiring only a few years ago.
It’s why he wants to set an example of good cheer and charity for his own family, especially at Christmas. It looks like the community is ready to answer. In addition to raking in more than half his goal on the first night, he was challenged to up the fundraising goal to $13,000, at which point, "I’ll shave my beard, mustache and head," said McCloskey.
With Share having to cancel its drive-thru food and toy drive due to COVID-19 restrictions, McCloskey is hoping to make up for the shortage with his Spice Up the Holidays and Fill the Food Bank Challenge.
As for how he’ll get through the challenge, McCloskey admits it will be “uncomfortable,” but he’s stubborn and will carry it through to the end.
“Alright, you don’t think I can do it,” he jokes. “Just watch me.”