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Aurora Police start “Ring of Fire” challenge to help teen with cancer

The idea for the challenge came from an Aurora officer who wanted to raise money for a coworkers daughter, who's battling cancer.

Participants have two choices: Eat a habanero pepper, or three donuts in a minute. Good luck with the “Ring of Fire” challenge!

The idea came from Aurora Police Officer Thomas Faustin. Inspired by other online viral challenges like the ALS ice bucket challenge, Faustin wanted to find a creative and fun way to raise money for another Aurora Police officer’s daughter who is battling cancer.

“What we want to do is raise money for their family, but we also want to get some funny videos for Tayler while she's in the hospital,” Faustin explained Tuesday.

He is talking about 13-year old Tayler Ellison, who is fighting cancer for the second time. Several organizations, including Cops Fighting Cancer, have rallied behind “Team Tayler” and shared her story.

“She is inspiring and motivating to a lot of us here at the department,” Faustin said. “Very strong, very poised through this whole thing, and displaying a lot of qualities that are required for us, as officers.”

Faustin recorded the first video posted to a Facebook page called “APD4TeamTayler,” explaining his idea for a challenge.

First, he asks participants to record an encouraging and thoughtful message for Tayler. In that same video, Faustin asks challengers to either eat the pepper or donuts and record what happens next. Finally, the participant has to name five more people who they want to take the challenge.

Those who accept the challenge are asked to donate at least $10 to the family, those who do not accept the challenge are asked to donate at least $25.

“We really wanted to put something together for Tayler that gives her an opportunity to laugh, and gives her an escape from some of the things going on right now,” Faustin said.

Officer Faustin understands better than most people why the teen could use some support right now. He’s also battling a cancer diagnosis.


On the challenge Facebook page, the Aurora Police Department posted a disclaimer warning people who plan to participate in the challenge to do so at their own risk. You can read more about that here.

“This is the big blue family, this is what we do -- we come around and we support each other,” he said.

“I’ve felt personally what it feels like to be hugged by that big blue family,” he continued. “It’s humbling to receive that support myself. That’s a big motivator for me to reach out and do something for somebody else.”

The challenge was more popular than Aurora Police expected. First responders around Colorado started participating in the challenge, each nominating friends and colleagues to keep the fun and fundraising going. Faustin said more than 100 people have taken the challenge so far, and thousands of dollars have been raised for the Ellison family.

He’s shared many of the humorous videos on Facebook, at the “APD4TeamTayler” page.

“It makes me proud to be a police officer,” Faustin said. “When you get into this profession, you hear about comradery -- brotherhood, sisterhood, a big family. It’s things like this that really demonstrate that, when people are taking time out of their day, money out of their budgets to help one of our own.”

Faustin invites anyone who wants to take part in the challenge to participate. To learn more about the project, visit the Ring of Fire challenge Facebook page.