Arms up to raise ALS awareness

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Arms up to raise ALS awareness

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Sept. 3, 2014

By Vesna Brajkovic

As summer comes to a close, many will find themselves looking back on their summer break of long nights, bonfires and… ice buckets.

It’s the viral phenomenon that stormed our Facebook newsfeeds in a matter of months, replacing the cat gifs with videos of our friends, family and favorite celebrities shivering: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on someone’s head 24 hours after being challenged, and then nominating three others to do the same in a video. The nominated participant may instead choose to “forfeit” by donating $100 to ALS research.

A few local businesses have joined the craze, including The Black Sheep, Whitewater Country Club, The SweetSpot and Dale’s Bootery & Pedothoric Services.

The Black Sheep’s administrative and general staff accepted their challenge from graphic designer Lindsey Tommesen of SugarTreePress, and chose to donate $200 to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute for ALS research.

Tyler Sailsbery, owner and chef of The Black Sheep, encourages others to do research and said that although the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is getting the word out about a disease that many didn’t know anything about, donating is what is going to make a lasting impact.

“Without money, it’s not going to get a cure,” he said. “I think about all the diseases that we’ve eradicated…and I think ahead to when our children will look back and say, ‘Oh, that doesn’t exist anymore.’ We get to have a part in that, and we get to be the people that are paying for that research so that these diseases are eradicated.”

The Black Sheep nominated The SweetSpot as a whole to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

“I know that [the owners] believe in supporting good causes. We’re friends, as much as we are competition sometimes, in improving Whitewater, and improving the world,” Sailsbery said. “I know that’s their goal as much as it is our goal. I didn’t question for a second that they would be on board.”

After accepting the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, The SweetSpot added their own twist by also participating in a SMAshOut SMA Challenge beforehand. The SMA Challenge is to smash a cupcake in your face to raise awareness for spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).

The SweetSpot donated $20 for each of the 16 staff members who participated, including owner Lacey Reichwald, to both causes. The donation totaled $320. There were also additional individual donations given by staff members.

The SweetSpot nominated Dale’s Bootery and Taco Fresco.

“I think it’s important [to participate in these challenges] because a lot of these causes are relatively unknown,” Reichwald said. “There’s a lot of positive attention happening around it, and people are learning things that they didn’t know before.”

In other versions of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the participant is expected to pay $10 if they accepted the challenge or $100 if they did not. The main goal is to spread awareness of the amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS.) The spilt second paralyzing feeling of the ice water hitting the skin is said to mildly simulate what ALS sufferers feel like on a daily basis.

ALS, more commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a fatal disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. People living with ALS progressively lose the ability to control voluntary muscles due to the degeneration, and eventual death, of their motor neutrons. In most cases, according to alsa.org, ALS develops into complete paralysis, with individuals losing their ability to eat, speak, walk and, eventually, breathe. The involuntary functions, such as the brain, heart and senses, are largely unaffected. ALS is hard to diagnose, and there is no known cure or cause.

Since July 29, the ALS Association has received $94.3 million in donations compared to $2.7 million during the same time period last year, a difference of $91.6 million since the challenge started.

Although many people have donated or participated in the challenge, there are a few critics. Criticism surrounds the idea that many people are using the ice water as a way to “get out of” donating. Others raise concerns about how water is being wasted senselessly, especially in places like California, which is suffering a severe drought.

“I would really encourage people to really be aware of how much water they’re using while doing the challenge,” Reichwald said. “For instance, we shared buckets. Out of 16 of us we had eight buckets, so two people were under each one. I think it’s really important to be aware of that.”