People across the country are posting videos of themselves belly-flopping into water in a trend that is about more than summertime fun.
The videos, posted with the #BellyFlopforBabies hashtag, are for a good cause -- supporting both pregnant women who are placed on bed rest with high-risk pregnancies and families who have premature babies in neonatal intensive care units.
The viral challenge was started in June by High Risk Hope, a Tampa, Fla.-based non-profit organization that delivers toiletries and comfort items such as blankets to hospitals' maternity wards.
The organization was started in 2011 by Heather Barrow after she spent months hospitalized on bed rest before the birth of her son Hill, now a healthy 7-year-old who took the #BellyFlopforBabies challenge himself.
“Heather was surrounded by her family but saw that most of the women around her didn’t have any help,” Bailey Nicholas, the organization’s fund development and special events manager, told ABC News.
Nicholas herself was pregnant with twins and put on bed rest two years ago when High Risk Hope came to her aid, delivering care packages that it dubs “bed rest baskets” and “NICU napsacks.” The gifts packages are stocked with necessities such as shampoo, conditioner, lip balm and toothpaste that expectant moms may not have with them if they are unexpectedly admitted to the hospital.
“A lot of moms end up on bed rest not knowing that they’re going to be admitted, and many of the moms we support are lower income or don’t have family nearby,” Nicholas said.
The organization relies solely on donations and typically raises around $260,000 each year. Nicholas said the #BellyFlopforBabies challenge has raised several thousand dollars already.
The challenge calls for participants to belly flop into water right after calling out the name of the next person they are challenging to make a flop. If you chicken out of belly flopping, you are supposed to make a donation. Donations are also welcome from those who do the belly flop.
“We’re happy to get the awareness and recognition as well as the funds,” Nicholas said. “We got to about 70 videos in the first weekend that we launched it, and now we've just lost count.”
Doctor and nursing groups are getting into the challenge, as well as kids whose parents were helped by High Risk Hope.
The organization has branches in Sarasota and San Francisco and hopes to expand nationally.
“We serve over 2,000 women in any given year,” Nicholas said. “We have a force of more than 150 volunteers who put the bags together and do weekly deliveries of the bags to the hospitals.”