Canterbury charity’s ice-bath challenge named one of NZ’s best events

Two-time leukaemia survivor Josh Komen is celebrating another milestone, as the charity he froze for is named a finalist in the 2023 New Zealand Event Awards.

Josh Komen, the first ever ambassador for Rānui House, was the brains and bravery behind the Take the Challenge, Embrace the Cold event, which saw Josh set New Zealand’s ‘unofficial’ ice-bath record on prime-time TV.

The event, held on 29 March 2023, has just been named as finalist in the Best Community or Not-for-profit Event (under 3,000) category at the 2023 New Zealand Events Association annual awards. The Awards, which received a record-number of entries, will be announced at a Gala Evening at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre on 9 November 2023.

To set NZ’s ‘unofficial’ ice-bath record, Josh Komen spent 21 minutes in the ice bath, supported by 38 others who took turns having a dip in the freezing water. Many more kiwis supported Josh from home by taking part in the Two-Week Cold Shower Challenge. The Take the Challenge, Embrace the Cold event raised the profile of Rānui House and the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust, and raised $100,795 for the charity.

“All I wanted to do was to give back to Rānui House, which gave me a home and hope during my darkest days. To have raised over $100k in the process, and for the event to now be recognised nationally, is just incredible. I’m over the moon,” says Josh.

Rānui House, owned and managed by the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust, provides accommodation for patients and families undergoing life-saving medical treatment at Christchurch hospitals. Josh and his family stayed for 474 nights at Rānui House while he was battling Acute Myeloid Leukaemia, a type of cancer of the blood. He came up with the idea for the record-setting attempt earlier this year as a way of giving back to Rānui House, which he says was a “saving grace” for him and his family during his epic health battle – a battle he helped overcome after discovering the physical and mental benefits of ice therapy.

Bone Marrow Cancer Trust CEO Mandy Kennedy says for the last 30 years, the Trust has been a quiet achiever, but Josh’s unique idea gave them a chance to change that.

“Having a man of such unquestionable character, passion and drive gift his time to sharing his story and telling ours through the Take the Challenge, Embrace the Cold event was very special. Thanks to Josh and his unwavering commitment to our cause, we raised awareness of Rānui House and celebrated the brave kiwis who have called our house home while raising much-needed funds.

“The Take the Challenge, Embrace the Cold event was more successful than we ever dreamed. It’s an honour to have the work of Josh and the incredible volunteers who made it happen recognised through the New Zealand Events Association awards,” says Mandy.

The Bone Marrow Cancer Trust fundraised for and gifted to New Zealand its first Bone Marrow Cancer Unit in 1991. Two years later, the Trust built Rānui House and since then accommodates up to 26 families every day and has provided more than 150,000 accommodation nights to patients and families in need.

The funds raised through the Take the Challenge, Embrace the Cold event will go towards the refurbishment of Little Rānui, the original nine apartments at Rānui House. With demand increasing for the unique blend of accommodation, compassion and care the House provides, the Bone Marrow Cancer Trust is expanding its offering with a new 43-apartment complex in central Christchurch due to open in 2024.

More information about Josh’s journey and story can be found here:

Photos from the Ice Bath Challenge can be accessed here.