Locals react to ALS phenomenon

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Locals have jumped on the ice-bucket-challenge bandwagon to show their support for ALS.

As of Monday, the ALS Association had received $79.7 million in donations, compared to the $2.5 million during the same time period lat year.

ALS is known as Amytrophic lateral sclerosis. Often called Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body.

The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to the person’s death, according to the ALS Association.

There is no known cause or cure for ALS.

According to the foundation, the donations have come from existing donors and 1.7 million new donors to the association.

The challenge has garnered national media attention with celebrities such as Matt Lauer from The Today Show, golfer Chris Kennedy, former President George W. Bush and others completing it.

The rules for the challenge are simple.

Once challenged, one has 24 hours in which to complete it, and they must record a video of themselves completing it.

Participants are asked to donate $10 if they have the chilling water poured over their heads or $100 if they choose not to.

Today, employees at Southeast Alabama Gas District will take part in the challenge in honor of former employees Randy Castleberry and Rosie Bedgood.

Castleberry’s daughter, Stephanie DuBose, said they wanted to challenge other businesses such as PowerSouth to take part in the event.

DuBose, whose family watched her father battle ALS for seven years, said it’s good to see the disease garnering attention.

“We’re glad it’s bringing awareness to what ALS is,” she said.

Jill Prevett, whose father, Jimmy Blanton, lost his battle to ALS in February of 2013, said “to watch someone you love become completely debilitated by a disease with so little known about it can feel so helpless.

“The ALS ice bucket challenge has opened the door for people to learn more about the disease and the spike in donations has been amazing,” she said. “I have laughed and cried watching these challenges over the past few weeks. The challenge has given me hope that there will one day be a cure.”