By Jessica Lovell
Jason Clattenburg is crossing his fingers that the mercury will rise over the next week, but not for the reason that most people have. It’s because he will be sleeping outdoors. Well, almost.
Clattenburg has pledged to give up his bed for five nights, from Feb. 23 to 28, to support the Children’s Foundation of Guelph and Wellington’s Live Free campaign, which raises money for its Food and Friends school breakfast and snack programs. He heard about this year’s campaign and immediately wanted to take part. “I was laying in bed at the time and I said, ‘I’ll give up my comfy bed,’” Clattenburg says. “I thought, why not push myself to see if I could do it.”
But he’s taking it a step further than simply sleeping on the couch or the floor. Clattenburg has pledged to sleep in his shed in his backyard.
Officially, Live Free Day is Feb. 28. It’s a day when the foundation challenges community members and local students to give up something they take for granted each day, then donate the money they would normally spend on that item. The fundraiser alludes to the struggles of children who must do without, going to school hungry on a regular basis.
In addition to the many small pledges that people will be making at their schools and workplaces, some community members have made larger pledges. Clattenburg is one of these.
Another example is Guelph Police Chief Bryan Larkin, who’s giving up coffee for the month of February.
The pledges are posted online at livefreewdg.ca, where others can register their own pledges or pick a favourite and make a donation.
Clattenburg is also using the social media website Twitter to let people know all about his plans.
“It’s raising awareness, because people are going to the website to find out what it’s all about,” he says.
He has posted a picture of his shed in the snowy backyard, and he later tweeted, “I used my snowblower to make a path to my shed,” foreshadowing his chilly experience.
“I already did a practice run with my son,” he says, noting his son only lasted the first couple of hours before giving in to the cold and heading inside. The father stuck it out until 6:30 a.m., and he’s feeling confident that he’ll make it through the five days.
“As long as I keep my feet warm, I should be alright,” he says.
Clattenburg is no stranger to endurance challenges. He has twice competed in the Children’s Foundation’s Southern Ontario Amazing Race (SOAR), a weekend-long adventure race that challenges racers’ mental and physical stamina.
He continues to work with the foundation as a SOAR race director and construction co-ordinator.
The foundation, which is dedicated to supporting financially disadvantaged children and their families, is a favourite charity.
“I didn’t necessarily benefit from the Children’s Foundation, but my family got some help when we were kids, so it’s really good to give back,” Clattenburg says.
In his pledge, Clattenburg was particularly inspired by past Live Free participant Peter Barrow, who went without shoes for a day one year, and without glasses for a day the next year. “That was extreme,” Clattenburg says. “How do you go a whole day in the winter without shoes?”
Clattenburg has no sleeping bag, only a big stack of blankets to keep him warm in his shed, but he regards that as part of the challenge.
“I could easily go get a –40 C sleeping bag, but that would defeat the purpose,” he says.
Barrow’s shoeless pledge brought in $1,200. Clattenburg doesn’t have a specific fundraising goal in mind, but he’s started the ball rolling with his own $100 pledge.
“Hopefully, that will spur some people to donate money, too,” he says.
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By Jessica Lovell