ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raises $15.6M for research

NewsChannel 15's Megan Reust did the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness about ALS/Lou Gehrig's Disease

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping the nation via social media.  People are making donations to help find a cure as well as raise awareness, then recording themselves dumping ice water on their heads, and then challenging their family and friends to do the same.  Over the last few weeks, that’s resulted in more than $15M donated compared to $1.8M during the same time period last year.

We were curious how the challenge got started in the first place.  So, we talked with ALS officials in Indianapolis about it.  ALS Development Coordinator Kara Thornton says a 29-year-old man from Massachussets diagnosed with the disease three years ago made it up to raise awareness.

“He started doing it and it spread across the state then went viral,” Thornton said.

Now celebrities, professional athletes and everyday people are dumping buckets of ice cold water on their heads to raise awareness and money in hopes of finding a cure.

“We have never seen anything like this.”

ALS also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease attacks muscles in the body which paralyzes those diagnosed with it.  Thornton says patients eventually lose the ability to eat.

“You lose all control of your muscles. Once you’re diagnosed, you have about two to five years to live. That’s what we’ve seen with most of our patients. It’s a horrendous disease that there is no cure for right now. We are working on research. There’s a lot of promising research out there.”

While the videos have got a lot of attention online, it’s also making a big difference in helping to pay for research.  The ALS chapter in Indy says last week in Indianapolis they gained a lot of support and nearly doubled their goal.

“This year our goal was $20,000 to raise throughout the week. We ended up raising $35,000.”

Nationally the numbers are even more impressive.  Over the last few weeks more than $15M have poured in.  Compare that to the same time last year:  $1.8M.
To learn more about the challenge or to make a donation, click here.

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