DIGBY, NS - Andrea Smith jumped into freezing water Jan. 24 to help a guy she says hello to on the street in Annapolis Royal sometimes.
No, she wasn’t rescuing a drowning victim. She was one of a number of people in Digby raising money to help Jordan Morgan survive cancer.
It’s the Live Well Challenge where fundraisers jump into the refrigerated ‘well’ in a lobster boat where the lobsters are kept alive after they’re removed from the traps. The water temperature is just shy of 4C.
“My first thought was ‘get me out of here,’” she said of her cold plunge. “It was minor to what Jordan and his family are feeling.”
The Re/Max agent is from nearby Porter’s Lake on the South Range but has an office in Annapolis Royal. She heard about Jordan’s battle with a rare form of cancer and the high cost of a new drug that isn’t covered by Medicare. The Live Well Challenge has been helping charities and good causes for several weeks around the province, ever since a Pubnico Head house fire left four children dead Jan. 7.
“I thought it was a great opportunity to extend the challenge to Digby and surrounding areas to help our local friend,” Smith said.
All told she and four others raised $4,500 for Jordan. Jody Smith, Jarred Lowe, Stanley Denton, and Jason Farsted also jumped into the cold brine.
She’d read a Digby Courier story about Sarah Yetman’s Jan. 20 GoFunMe vow to raise $130,000 for Jordan. Each dose of the drug costs $15,000 and he has to purchase two doses at a time.
Jordan, 34, is a nurse and worked at Digby hospital. About four years ago he was diagnosed with undifferentiated cell sarcoma after finding a lump in his leg. He’s had successive surgeries, tumours, and radiation, but this time there’s a tumour on his lung and time is running out.
“Honestly, when I saw this on Facebook I actually cried tears of joy,” said Yetman of Smith’s chilly plunge. “I am so thankful.”
It’s been an emotional few days for Yetman who knew Jordan slightly from when he lived in Annapolis Royal. Jordan remembers piling wood for Yetman’s stepfather.
“We have had an overwhelming response,” she said about the efforts to help Jordan. “I have received so many private messages from people asking to help. I’ve had friends, who have never met Jordan, offering to donate their time and services to help spread the word. Not to mention the success the GoFundMe has had. In just over three days we have managed to raise over $10,000.”
By the morning of Jan. 25 that number had jumped to almost $13,000.
“This, in combination with an anonymous $15,000 Jordan has received directly, has almost brought us to our first goal, which allows Jordan to order the first two doses of the medication,” said Yetman. “But we can’t stop there. The first $30,000 buys us 21 days. That’s 21 days to spread the word, far and wide, to anyone that will listen. Everyone has been so generous so far so we just need to keep pushing, because Jordan deserves this.”
Yetman said you just have to look at what Jordan does for a living.
“As a nurse, how many people has he helped? It’s rare for us to have the opportunity to give back to the people who spend their lives giving to us.”
Smith doesn’t disagree. She met Jordan once at her aunt’s house. Jordan and her aunt had worked together at the hospital.
“I meet him on the street in Annapolis and he is so friendly, always smiling and saying ‘Hello,’” Smith said. “His smile sits in my soul. That's corny but true, because until recently I was unaware of his fight. Based on his smile no one would know.”
“I knew very little about what we were fighting when I got into this,” said Yetman. “I knew he was a family friend and a good man, and I knew he needed 130k or he would die. That’s all I needed to grab this and run with it.”
Yetman said people who still want to donate can now do that without going online.
“Balser’s Pharmachoice in Digby is currently accepting cash donations on Jordan’s behalf,” she said. And Still Fired just signed on to take donations as well. “And of course, the GoFundMe account is still going strong for anyone that wants to donate from the comfort of their couch.”
When Yetman first started fighting for Jordan, she emailed everyone she could think of, including talk show celebrity Ellen DeGeneres.
“So far, we haven’t heard from Ellen DeGeneres but I have seen a lot of people sharing the story directly to her since being mentioned in the first article. I encourage people to continue trying. Hey, you never know.”
Jordan Morgan lives in Digby, but the husband and father of two is from Annapolis Royal where people in that town are taking up the fight on his behalf as well. Garth Lescaudron at Still Fired Distillery in Lequille is organizing a fundraiser for Feb. 17 that will include music and food just across the road from Lequille Country Store.
Jordan is a beekeeper and Still Fired will be carrying his Isle of Bees Apiary products. Andrew Cameron at Still Fired thought the fundraiser would be a good opportunity to showcase Jordan’s products and help raise money towards his cancer treatment. Lescaudron is currently working out the details of the event.