Two teachers in Michigan spent a chilly night camped out on their school’s roof after, quite happily, losing a bet with students.
Josh Smokovitz and Jason Cady are both teachers at Oxford Middle School in Oxford, Michigan.
Every year, the school does a penny wars fundraiser to raise money for a charity picked by the students. This year it was the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and homerooms had to pair up in a competition to raise the most money.
Smokovitz and Cady’s classes teamed up and they started brainstorming a gimmick to raise the most funds.
“Josh and I went back and forth about how we could change the game,” Cady told BuzzFeed News.
They considered being human sundaes or having eggs thrown at them, but then the winning idea struck. They told their classes they’d stay on the school roof overnight if they raised the most money.
“We just jumped to the triple dog dare,” Cady said.
Unsurprisingly, making your teachers freeze their butts off all night was a pretty good motivator.
Smokovitz said the bet got so big that it spread to other communities in the school and the district at large. Bus drivers were even collecting change en route.
“We would stand out by the parent drop and as parents would drive by they would empty out their change,” said Smokovitz.
Their classes raised the most money — almost $1,900 of the total $8,823.59 generated for the charity.
Which meant they had a date with the roof.
On Thursday evening, Smokovitz and Cady trekked up to the roof and set up camp.
Other faculty members donated sleeping bags, a tent, and a ton of blankets to keep them warm. Temperatures that night dipped to about 22 degrees. The fire department also gave them the all clear to set up some heaters. And in case you’re wondering, they did have access to a bathroom.
They stayed up there for more than 12 frigid hours, but they were too excited to sleep a wink.
That’s because they broadcasted the whole time in a live YouTube video, chatting with people from around the world.
“We were so excited to see other people around the world, seeing the cause that we were promoting, and sharing their stories and their connections,” Cady said. “People would ask on the live chat how we’re staying warm, but it was the big energy from the chat and big hearts.”
They also had a steady stream of visitors — like one guy who stopped by to play the accordion — who brought them warm coffees and treats. They hauled them all up in a milk crate on a rope.
What also kept them going was raising awareness for suicide prevention. The students’ choice in charity has special meaning for the community. In recent years, two students have killed themselves.
One was an eight grader named Shane.
“Oxford’s not a huge community so that hit us real hard, that was a gut punch,” said Cady.
Another was a high schooler named Megan. Smokovitz was actually part of the team that found her body.
Both of them died in the morning hours, before school started.