Challenge accepted: You have 24 hours

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There is nothing quite like pouring an ice-cold bucket of water over your head to raise awareness. The ice bucket challenge has drenched the nation and taken social media by storm.

Celebrities such as Britney Spears, Leonardo DiCaprio, Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates have all accepted the challenge. They then proceeded to challenge others to do the same or make a donation within 24 hours to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association.

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Ice Bucket Challenge: Amanda Miller being drenched with creek water by fellow Track and Field teammate Taelor Young. Photo courtesy of Amanda Miller.

The challenge started to help raise awareness for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a degenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. People with ALS gradually lose all control of muscle movement, which often leads to complete paralysis and death within three to five years of diagnosis.

Rilutek (Riluzole) is one of the only drugs approved by Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of ALS. Approved in 1995, it reduces damage to motor neurons by decreasing the release of glutamate. It can increase the duration of survival by two to three months.

The point of the challenge is that the shock of the cold water momentarily replicates the paralysis and atrophy of the neurons and muscles of someone with ALS. Students all over California Lutheran University have been getting involved by accepting the challenge.

Julia Kearns, a sophomore on the Cal Lutheran women’s soccer team, was more than happy to participate with her team in helping raise awareness.

The coaches overheard individual players being nominated and decided to make it a team effort.

“The whole team being able to do it, rather than just a few people hopefully maximized [awareness],” Kearns said. Coaches Frank Marino and Mike Padilla found out how much each girl donated and matched those donations to the ALS Association.

The women’s soccer team then nominated the volleyball team to take the challenge. Accepting the challenge, the entire team jumped into the pool by Grace Hall.

“We jumped into the pool to save water. The whole point of it was to raise awareness and donate money . . . Our coaches did it with us too,” said Sarah Pappas, a sophomore on the volleyball team.

The volleyball team nominated the men’s water polo team, who then nominated other water polo teams in Southern California.

Laura Najar-Brown, who was diagnosed with ALS eight years ago, was honored and humbled by the outburst of the ice bucket challenge.

“My initial reaction was hopeful and excited. ALS was getting long overdue and much needed exposure,” Najar-Brown said.

According to the Instagram hash tag, 3.7 million people completed the challenge. There have also been 2.4 million videos of the challenge posted on Facebook.

Najar-Brown’s family and friends took the challenge and donated in her honor.

“I do think the ice bucket challenge has done a tremendous job to spread awareness and spotlight this terminal disease,” Najar-Brown said.

According to the ALS Association, they have received $100.9 million in donations in the past year as of Aug. 29. The money raised goes to research and to help care and support those living with ALS.

It’s time to soak up the awareness and get involved by donating or filling up that bucket with ice and water.

 

Isabel Kirsch

Staff Writer

Published on September 17, 2014