‘12 dares of Christmas’: Nova Scotia man raises money for cousin’s memorial scholarship

‘12 dares of Christmas’: Nova Scotia man raises money for cousin’s memorial scholarship

‘12 dares of Christmas’: Nova Scotia man raises money for cousin’s memorial scholarship

A Lower Sackville, N.S., man has taken on a dare – 12 dares, in fact – to raise money for a scholarship that was set up in memory of his cousin who died last year.

READ MORE: Lower Sackville student dies after meningococcal meningitis diagnosis

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Since Dec. 12, 38-year-old Eric Anstey has been completing a dare each day for his “12 dares of Christmas” and posting it on social media while asking people to donate money for the scholarship, established at Sackville High School where 16-year-old Rylee Sears attended.

He said because Sears would have graduated from high school in 2017 he wanted to give a boost to the scholarship.

“Most important to me is it’s being done in his name and that we get to offer some support to some well-deserving students who are going to be starting their college or university career and letting them do that in a way that maybe will be just a little bit of a boost that they wouldn’t have had otherwise,” Anstey told Global News.

While he’s spreading Christmas fun and raising money with his videos, he’s also trying to spread awareness about meningococcal meningitis.

Sears, who was a Grade 10 student at the high school and a defenceman with the Sackville Flyers Midget B team, died in January 2015 from the disease.

“Rylee was an exceptional young man. He was kind, nice to everyone and a kid I admired greatly,” Anstey said. “He has been missed since the day he left by many, many people.”

Anstey said the idea for the fundraiser came from a Secret Santa experience at his workplace last year, when a colleague gave him a gift accompanied with a dare.

“I had to prove that the dare was completed by posting the video on Facebook and those videos got a little bit of popularity, they had 1,500 to 1,700 views and I thought, ‘wow what a great way to do something good,’” Anstey said.

This year he asked people on Facebook for dares and an amount of money they’d donate if he did the dare then chose 12 from the submissions. The dares he’s completed range from lip syncing to Whitney Houston’s I’m Every Woman to re-enacting the Cousin Eddie scene from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, which has garnered almost 40,000 views.

Anstey said each dare stands out in his mind, including pretending to enter the WWE Raw ring in wrestling tights outside the Lower Sackville Sobeys. He also tried to consume four litres of milk in 30 minutes.

“I failed miserably at that one,” he said.

Through the videos, which have had almost 65,000 views in total, he said he’s raised approximately $3,000 to contribute to the fund, which was started last year by leadership teacher Kerry MacQueen after Sears’ death. There is currently about $5,200 in the fund, not including Anstey’s fundraising.

Chloe Goulden, an 18-year-old student in MacQueen’s class, said they wanted to raise a lot of money for the scholarship because they are in their graduating year, the same year Sears would have entered in September.

Goulden, who had been in Sears’ class since Grade Primary, said though she was unsure at first when hearing about the videos, she’s glad he’s doing them.

“It’s really blown up. He’s been doing awesome things and everyone has been really interested in it and excited,” Goulden said.

READ MORE: Memorial hockey game held in Lower Sackville to support family of Rylee Sears

She said seeing so many people, even those who didn’t know Sears, contribute to the fund either through Anstey’s videos or other efforts like a memorial hockey game has been “awesome.”

“Money is big this time of year, so for somebody to give up their own money to go towards helping the scholarship, it’s more than just a scholarship it’s support for the family and his friends,” Goulden said.

“It kind of gives us a way to still do something for him even though he isn’t here anymore it gives us a way to still be his friend and family, it’s how we can dedicate ourselves to him even though he isn’t here anymore.”

Anstey still has three dares to complete, one of which will take place at the Halifax airport in a ballerina outfit, and on his 12th and final day on Friday, he will shave off his eyebrows.

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