Jumping into a pool full of ice was no trouble for a group of locals who say it was worth it to raise funds and awareness for the charity Heart Kids.

Rotorua Heart Kids' annual Heart Stopper Challenge took place at the Rotorua Aquatic Centre yesterday with seven teams jumping into water with an average temperature of 8C.

There were 150 3kg bags of ice used over the day.

Rotorua Heart Kids' chairwoman Juanita Himona said the challenge was about raising awareness as they mimicked what it was like for a heart kid to have surgery.


During open heart surgery a child's chest cavity can be filled with an icy slush to slow the heart's oxygen requirement and give the surgeon a longer window of operating time.

"We are happy as with the turnout, we didn't expect it to be this big. So far we have raised $4300 online and with the offline donations we are looking to be around the $5000 mark. All the donations go back to our local branch."

She said even though the children have heart surgery their illness was a life time thing and Heart Kids was there to provide support.

Tyla Maxwell took the plunge for her son, a heart kid.

"He's my third child, my midwife picked up that something was wrong. Within his first day of life we were at Starship, he was 6-days-old when he had open heart surgery.

"He's done really well since. He's 5 months old now and there's been no issues.

"I didn't know about heart kids before this, I want to push the awareness out there so we can help, especially in Rotorua," she said.

Michelle Cresswell also braved the cold water for her son, Brodie, who is a heart kid. She was joined by a team of family and friends as well as Brodie's pediatrician.

"We are doing it for my son and we all think Heart Kids is pretty cool," she said.

The Heart Stopper Challenge involves teams of four to six people plunging into an icy pool for five minutes.

For more information about Heart Kids Rotorua go to www.heartstopper.org.nz.