Josh-ing Around: Second Annual ‘Josh Fight’ Raises $20k For Children’s Hospital
Colorful plastic noodle in a swimming pool. Nobody.
Colorful plastic noodle in a swimming pool. Nobody.

The second annual “Josh Fight” took place in Lincoln, Nebraska, over the weekend.

The event, which originated in 2020 as a tweet that went viral, raised more than $20,000 for the Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha. More than 200 people, Joshes and non-Joshes alike, showed up to Bowling Lake Park in Lincoln at noon Saturday, armed with foam pool noodles, to battle for the honor of being named the “Number 1 Josh,” the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

“Lincoln, you’ve done it again,” event organizer Josh Swain said, via the Lincoln Journal Star. “The enthusiasm from everybody here was just incredible.” Swain, a native of Tucson, Arizona, organized the first Josh fight in 2021, after one of his social media posts went viral. The success of the first event prompted Swain to organize another event this year.

The title of “Number 1 Josh” was awarded to five-year old Josh Vinson, Jr., who also won the title during the first Josh Fight last year. Four-year-old Josh Folmar was the runner-up. Folmar secured his second-place spot in the battle wearing a “Captain Josh Sparrow” costume, the Journal Star reported. A number of other challengers wore costumes to do battle against their fellow Joshes. The event also featured a costume contest: Battle Creek, Nebraska, native Josh Rakowsky won, dressed as “The Real Josh Shady.”

“I think that’s amazing that they are able to take something that started off as some guy being bored texting … and then turned around and actually made something out of it,” said Tony Rupert, who attended last year’s event and returned to compete again this year. “It’s not something you hear about very often.”

In all, the event raised $20,576 for the Omaha Children’s Hospital. Swain also established a fundraiser, which will continue to collect donations through Monday. Fast food giant Burger King contributed $15,000, and California winery Josh Cellars said it would match the donations. Nicky McCarville, the hospital’s director of development, said that 75% of the proceeds would go toward the Charity Care program, which helps cover the costs for uninsured children. The other 25% would be donated to the Joshua Collingsworth Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit charity dedicated to spreading awareness about accidental drowning and children’s water safety. The Foundation distributed gift baskets to winners of the contests, and its mascot, Josh the Otter, appeared to spread awareness about water safety.

“We’re just so grateful for the Lincoln community and people that have come from all over the country and out of state to support Josh [Swain],” McCarville told the Journal Star. “He’s an incredibly kind and generous person that came up with a really fun and creative event during kind of not-so-great times.”

Swain told the outlet that making Josh Fight an annual event is not a certainty, but he would like to keep holding it. “There’s a number of factors in this crazy world,” he said. “I think that the hope is to keep this trend going so that we can keep the good times rolling.”

Josh Fight began as a simple text message that went viral on Twitter. On April 24, 2020, Swain tweeted screenshots of a Facebook messenger group chat with more than ten other individuals named Josh Swain. “[There] can be only one,” Swain captioned the photos. In the screencaps, Swain instructed the others to meet in a field in Lincoln exactly one year later to battle for the right to keep the name. The tweet went viral, and spawned the first event on April 24, 2021. The first Josh Fight raised more than $8,000 for the Omaha Children’s Hospital, and participants donated 200 to 300 pounds of food for the Food Bank of Lincoln.

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