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ALS in the News

In recent weeks, it seems that everyone is getting in the act—that is the “ice bucket challenge”—from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Bill Gates and even late-night talk show host Jimmy Fallon.

The “ice bucket challenge” involves dumping a freezing cold bucket of icy water over your head to raise awareness and donations for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease). So far, the chilly activity and virtual sensation is sweeping across America with over 15 million people commenting, posting or liking the Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook and over 2.2. million tweets.

According to the ALS Association as of August 26th, the “ice bucket challenge” raised over $88.5 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 18). Donations have poured in from existing donors and 307,598 new donors according the Association.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says that ALS is the most common motor neuron disease that we know of. All races and ethnic backgrounds are affected and two out of 100,000 people develop.

For the waves of people who have accepted the challenge, it is the story of Pete Frates, a former star baseball player at Boston College who was diagnosed with ALS. Frates shared his battle while facing the deadly disease during an ESPN SportsCenter interview earlier this month to raise awareness about the progressive and debilitating neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

The “ice bucket challenge” hits close to home for Michele and Patrice McKenney, their mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2005 and passed away in 2012. Marilyn McKenney, not one to complain,  spoke openly to her family of the devastation of the diagnosis.

On June 2, 1941, National Baseball Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig suffering from ALS died at the age of 37. Today, Gehrig remains an inspiration, representing fortitude, humility and courage to the tens of thousands of Americans living with ALS.

Check out this video clip and watch how some Chicago neurologists were influenced by the challenge and took on the icy cold plunge.