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Every drop in the bucket helps fund ALS research PDF Print E-mail
Written by Darci Tomky   

ALS Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge has swept the nation, and Holyoke is no exception.

Millions have accepted the challenge to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The challenge has gone viral, as videos of each person or group are posted to social networking sites and then friends or family are tagged and dared to accept the challenge themselves.

Originally, those challenged were required to complete the ice bucket dumping within 24 hours along with a $10 donation to the ALS Association, or to stay away from the icy water, one could donate $100 instead.

While not everyone who posts a video actually donates, the popular challenge has still made a huge impact, one drop at a time.



Second-grader Tyler Bergstrom, at left, prepares for an icy cold impact, while his seventh-grade brother Hunter Bergstrom gets completely drenched during their ALS Ice Bucket Challenge last Sunday, Aug. 24, in Holyoke. Their video will join millions of others on social media, which has propelled the Ice Bucket Challenge to go viral across the world, spreading awareness and raising funds for the ALS Association in their search for treatments and a cure for the fatal disease.  

—Enterprise photo


According to the ALS Association website, it received $79.7 million in donations as of Monday, Aug. 25, in comparison to $2.5 million during the same time period last year (July 29-Aug. 25). These donations have come from existing donors as well as 1.7 million new donors.

Mallori Burnett, a 2004 HHS grad whose mother, Gogi Noel, died of ALS in 2011, said her family is very grateful for all the publicity the Ice Bucket Challenge is getting. “It is helping to spread information about this disease and make people aware of how people are actually affected by it,” she said.

“We are overwhelmed with joy the number of donations that have been made to help progress with the research to one day find a cure,” Burnett added. “We are very humbled by all of the people that have helped to make my mother’s memory live on!”

1979 HHS graduate Tim Gribben is also being remembered through local Ice Bucket Challenges, which honor his four-year battle with ALS and his death in 2009.

Celebrities, athletes, politicians and local community members of all ages have all jumped on board the Ice Bucket Challenge, which began just a month ago.

Pete Frates, a 29-year-old former Boston College baseball star, was the inspiration for the Ice Bucket Challenge. He was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, and even though he has lost his voice due to the disease, his efforts to raise awareness for ALS can now be heard around the world.

And the challenges seem to be getting bigger and better! The Holyoke softball team couldn’t just fill up a couple of buckets of water. Instead, they filled an entire semitruck full of water and lined up to brave the cold water as it came splashing down.

Some staff members at Holyoke Elementary School accepted the challenge in front of 300 young students, taking the opportunity to educate the children about Lou Gehrig’s Disease.


What is ALS?

According to the ALS Association website, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. When these cells die, voluntary muscle control and movement dies with them. In the later stages of the disease, patients are totally paralyzed, but in most cases, their minds remain sharp and alert.

Two to five years is the average life expectancy of a person from the time they are diagnosed with ALS. An average of 15 people are diagnosed with the disease every day—more than 5,600 per year. It most commonly strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70.

It is called Lou Gehrig’s Disease because Gehrig brought international attention to the disease in 1939 when it ended his baseball career with the New York Yankees.

The ALS Association has committed more than $67 million to find effective treatments and a cure for ALS.


Holyoke Enterprise August 28, 2014