Viral 'Koala Challenge' catches on with Manitoba police
A Winnipeg Police Service cadet takes part in the Koala Challenge to raise awareness for the wildfires in Australia. (Source: Twitter/Winnipeg Police Service)
WINNIPEG -- A social media challenge raising awareness of the Australian wildfires has gone viral, and Manitoba's police services are getting in on the action.
It's called the Koala Bear Challenge, a fitness feat that has the participant bear-hug a bench -- like a koala bear -- and without touching the floor, work their way underneath it and back to the top.
The challenge was started in January by Australian fitness instructor James Newbury, in partnership with sports drink company FIT AID to raise funds and awareness for the people, firefighters and wildlife affected by the fires in Australia.
The FIT AID Company said, from Jan. 6 to 10, it would donate $5 for every koala challenge shared to social media
It's not as easy as it looks, but it's been gaining popularity across social media and thousands of accounts -- including Manitoba's RCMP and Winnipeg Police Service -- posted to raise awareness for the Victorian Bushfire.
"It was a fit for us, as we are very aware of the immense challenges faced by the people in Australia. I cannot imagine what it is like for the community and the frontline emergency responders facing this disaster," said James Ham with the Winnipeg Police Service.
"It took very little effort and cost us nothing to be a good, supportive global neighbor -- and there were no shortage of WPS members willing to step up and answer the call."
The challenge is not the only way Manitobans are helping out the country down under.
Four groups from Manitoba have been sent to support the firefighting efforts in Australia. In total, there are about 100 Canadians either on the ground or travelling to Australia to help with the fires.
As for Newbury's challenge, it's caught on with Philadelphia Phillies player Bryce Harper who shared his koala bear challenge to his 1.7 million Instagram followers.
Thousands of videos have flooded social media since, with people using #koalachallenge to share their accomplishments and bring attention to the flames ripping through Australia, threatening wildlife.
In addition to the viral challenge, Newbury also started a GoFundMe page to raise money with wildlife rescues in Australia.