Following a fundraising trend gone viral, Juneau Rotary will host a community ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23 at the parking lot of Elgee Rehfeld Mertz at 9309 Glacier Highway.
The challenge hits close to home, as Rotarian and Juneau resident Lloyd Johnson died Saturday of ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
“Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord,” reads the description from the ALS Association. “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.”
Approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS annually and while there is treatment, there is no cure.
“About 20 percent of people with ALS live five years or more and up to 10 percent will survive more than 10 years and five percent will live 20 years. There are people in whom ALS has stopped progressing and a small number of people in whom the symptoms of ALS reversed,” website ALSA.org reads.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral social media fundraising campaign, challenges people to either pour a bucket of ice water over one’s head, donating $10 to an ALS organization like ALSA.org, or skip the icy water and donate $100 to an ALS organization. Participants should be sure their smartphones are in use taking video, rather than getting soaked in places like their pocket, when the icy water hits.
The campaign has seen some criticism with sceptics wondering how ice and water will help cure such a disease, but The Associated Press reported that since the ALS Association began tracking the viral campaign’s progress on July 29, the organization has raised $53.3 million from more than a million new donors.
“I challenge all of you to join us on Saturday and invite your friends and family,” wrote Juneau Rotary President Karen Morgan in an email. “Bring a bucket, join us in the fun and make a difference in finding a cure for ALS. Whether you can make it or not, please consider making a donation in memory of Lloyd at alsa.org.”
Juneau Rotary will provide ice and water, but participants will have to bring buckets and their philanthropic spirit.
• Contact reporter Melissa Griffiths at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 523-2272.