Blue Door CEO Michael Braithwaite was thrilled by the community support for the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser, but it came with a downside for him.
With the community exceeding his personal fundraising goal of $10,000, Braithwaite had to complete his own challenge: eating one of the stinkiest fish in the world.
On March 10 outside Kevin's Place Youth Shelter in Newmarket, he fulfilled a promise to do so, despite a stench that sent the surrounding support team reeling.
“Picture maybe a Diaper Genie,” Braithwaite said. “If it smells that bad, how it’s going to taste? And it tastes twice as bad. But it really is just a mental game, have to overcome it. I’d do it every day if people would pay to support ending homelessness.”
The homelessness and housing charity helped raise more than $162,463 with the annual fundraising event in Richmond Hill. Braithwaite himself was a top fundraiser with $10,000 garnered.
The CEO regularly takes on challenges to spur his fundraising. This year’s was the Surströmming Stinky Fish Challenge proposed by his team. The Swedish delicacy has become a true challenge, with the smell that's off-putting, to say the least.
“While it has been a part of the local Swedish cuisine since the 16th century and possibly earlier, to potential consumers from other countries, it has acquired something of an enigma status due to its reputation for overpowering odour,” the challenge website said. “Packaged in cans, the release of smell when a can is opened has been called the most overwhelming food smell in the world.”
“I’m excited about these kinds of things ... the tougher the challenge, the more sensational, ” Braithwaite said. “I was pretty excited about it. A little nervous, of course.”
Despite the pungent smell, Braithwaite made it through two bites of the fish, with no retching involved.
After all the dollars raised, Braithwaite said he felt fantastic.
“The community is generous as always. I’ve never lost faith, but it renews it more (knowing) that people care.”
There are already thoughts for next year’s challenge. Braithwaite said he is considering a long walk along Yonge Street, about 25 kilometres, wearing shorts or a onesie.
“I’m always up for a fun, interesting challenge that will raise money to do good,” he said.