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PRESS PHOTO BY JIM MARSH Firefighters from the Vera Cruz Citizen's Fire Department recently accepted a challenge from Alburtis Fire Department to participate in a PRESS PHOTO BY JIM MARSH Firefighters from the Vera Cruz Citizen's Fire Department recently accepted a challenge from Alburtis Fire Department to participate in a "soaking" with ice water to raise donations for the national ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, fund drive which has become an Internet social media phenomenon. The firefighters are, kneeling, left to right: Deputy Chief Jerry Schantz; Second Lt. Brent Fegley; Lt. Jason Marsh and Asst. Chief Donald Smith. Standing, left to right, are firefighters Jesse

Ice Bucket Challenge

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 by JIM MARSH SPECIAL TO THE PRESS in Local News

Internet social media phenomenon raising unprecedented ALS donations

It may be warm in parts of the country, but some people are not drenching themselves in ice or cold water to cool down from elevated temperatures. A new phenomenon has hit the Internet social media circuit – the "Ice Bucket Challenge."

The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting the video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is better known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, the incurable medical disease that took the life of the world famous Hall of Fame baseball legend in June, 1941.

There is no known cure for the nerve disease.

People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS charity of their choice, or do both.

Beverly, Mass., resident Pete Frates, along with his family, helped to make the "Ice Bucket Challenge" go viral on the social sites Facebook and Twitter.

Frates, 29, has lived with ALS since 2012 and he has worked with The ALS Association's Massachusetts Chapter. A former Division 1 college athlete with Boston College Baseball, Frates tirelessly spreads awareness of Lou Gehrig's Disease.

This viral sensation, which has used the hash tag #IceBucketChallenge, has attracted thousands of followers, who willingly dropped frozen ice on themselves and issued the challenge to others.

"This is a creative way to spread ALS awareness via social media and in communities nationwide," Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of The ALS Association, said. "We thank so many people involved in spreading the word about ALS."

The association announced the ice bucket challenge had raised more than $53 million between July 29 and Aug. 22. For comparison, the association said it raised $2.2 million during the same period last year.

The contributions, which have come from more than one million new donors, as well as repeat donors, have been an enormous boon for for the ALS Association. The ALS national effort raised only $19 million in all of 2012.

Since the Ice Bucket Challenge began to go viral in early August, social media sites have been crowded with videos of people dumping ice on their heads, or the heads of others, after delivering a short message explaining their support for research and treatment of the disease.

Vera Cruz Asst. Fire Chief Donald Smith said his fire department members had accepted the challenge from Alburtis Fire Department, where Smith formerly served as chief and the funds raised would come from firefighter donations, not fire department operating funds.

Smith challenged a number of neighboring fire departments to accept the Vera Cruz firefighters challenge.

Those with Internet access and a Facebook account can view the Vera Cruz event online.