ALS challenge reaches Pike County

Published 9:04 pm Monday, August 18, 2014

submitted photo From left, Max Lee, Eric Lee and Lindsay Lee complete the ALS ice bucket challenge.

submitted photo
From left, Max Lee, Eric Lee and Lindsay Lee complete the ALS ice bucket challenge.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is about more than cold water and social media videos.

Just ask Troy resident Diana Lee. Her father, Paul Daugherty of Mobile, died 16 years ago from motor-neuron disease, which is on the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) spectrum. “It robs the ability to walk, talk, eat and eventually move any part of your body and then takes your life from you,” Lee said. “What’s horrific is that the mind stays just as sharp.”

Her teenage children took the challenge and were excited to do it. “They saw it on social media,” Lee said. “Usually it can be hard to talk teenagers into things, but they did it without hesitation, it was really easy to get them to do it.”

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According to the ALSA website, ALS, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” 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. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Since the advent of the “ice bucket challenge” social media campaign, which encourages everyone from celebrities to teens to withstand a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads, the organization has seen a significant increase in both awareness and donations.

The last three weeks have resulted in $15.6 million in donations to the ALSA association and its chapters, which was a 766 percent increase.

Troy Mayor Jason Reeves accepted the challenge, and said he was glad to be able to be a small part of fighting the disease.

“With all the bad things about social media, this shows that it can be used in a positive way,” Reeves said. “It’s amazing how something can spread like that all the way across the country. From the standpoint of the community, it’s nice to see the community get behind it and get after it.”

Troy Elementary School first grade teacher Heather Bunn was challenged by Troy City School Board member Wally Lowery. She completed the challenge on Saturday.

“Ms. Bunn is a very dedicated teacher, she does a lot for our school system and the kids love her. When I talked to Dr. (Lee) Hicks, he said she would be the perfect person to take on the challenge.,” Lowery said.”It sets a great example and shows that our community supports fundraising for ALS and that our community is very involved.”

“What’s so much fun about the challenge is that it’s not just one age group.” Bunn said. “My son is in high school, he challenged his friends, now he challenged his dad. Hopefully this campaign will bring both awareness and funds. ”

Bunn referenced singer Gwen Stefani’s challenge video, where the water was poured slowly over her head. “At least mine came with one cold gush,” Bunn said laughingly.