The ALS ice bucket challenge has reached Bradley County to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and donations for the Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Association.
Local civic leaders are being tapped as the challenge to make a donation or dump a bucket of ice water on their head is given via social media. Many are deciding to make donations and take the ice bucket challenge in order to help the cause and continue the momentum.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Tennessee Christian Preparatory School president Dr. Bill Balzano teamed up recently for a double-dunking by TCPS football team members.
“I received a challenge from TCPS coach (Steve) McKenzie and the football team and then state Rep. Kevin Brooks, so I am accepting both challenges today,” Rowland said. “I figure if President Bush is doing it today, I can do it as well.”
Each is making a donation to the ALS Association and challenging others to do the same.
“I’m doing this in memory of two friends — my granddaughter-in-law, for her father who passed away at 41 years old with ALS, and Kevin Brooks’ grandmother,” Rowland said.
The school president was also challenged by McKenzie.
“It is so much fun to work with those guys so I would not [let them down],” Balzano said.
Balzano said parents, teachers and school staff will be making a collective donation.
Rowland chose to challenge Cleveland Daily Banner publisher Stephen Crass, Mix 104.1 owner Steve Hartline and Lee University president Dr. Paul Conn. Balzano challenged Cleveland City Councilman Richard Banks, City Manager Janice Casteel and Bradley County Schools Director Johnny McDaniel.
“What’s surprising to me is the number of people who came and watched. That was fun,” Balzano said. “Initially, it was like one big ice cube you turn into and then because of the heat, the sunshine, I’m actually as warm now as I was before.”
Crass created a stir Friday afternoon by having a bucket of ice water dumped on his head. He also made a donation to ALS.
So who’s next?
Cleveland State Community College president Dr. Bill Seymour, Nancy Casson and Christy Griffith have been challenged by Crass.
Rowland cautioned that reports are saying those with heart conditions should not participate in the ice bucket challenge. However, they can still make a donation to ALS.
“And I see why because I really could not speak for a minute there. It really takes your breath,” Rowland said. “It is well worth the effort to support ALS.”
As more videos appear on social media and awareness spreads, ALS is seeing a positive impact. According to the ALS website, $62.5 million in donations has been received.
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body,” according to the ALS Association.
The association describes itself as “... the only national nonprofit organization fighting Lou Gehrig’s Disease on every front.”
This goes beyond funding research to coordinating care and assisting those fighting the disease.
More information about the types of research funded can be found at http://www.alsa.org/.