ALS 'Ice Bucket Challenge' Raising Money, Awareness

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCConnecticut.com
    NBC Connecticut's Gerry Brooks and Shirley Chan complete the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS.

    You may find yourself with goose bumps after watching video after video of friends and family members dumping buckets of ice cold water on themselves.

    It’s known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” and it’s not exploding on social media just because it’s summer.

    The challenge is designed to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, which affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The nerve cells progressively degenerate, which eventually leads to death.

    Anyone can participate in the challenge, which started with 29-year-old Pete Frates, of Massachusetts, who has been living with ALS for two years now and has lost his ability to speak, according to NBC News. 

    All you have to do is record yourself dumping a bucket of ice water over your head, then post it to social media and challenge the next competitor. If that doesn't sound appealing, you can forgo the icy shower and donate to the ALS Association.

    It's become a national phenomenon and NBC Connecticut has even joined in the fun, with anchors Gerry Brooks and Shirley Chan, sports anchor Kevin Nathan, meteorologist Bob Maxon and reporters Amy Parmenter and Abbey Niezgoda taking the icy plunge.

    The campaign is working. ALS Association spokesperson Carrie Munk told NBC News that the organization has collected $1.35 million in just the past couple weeks, compared with $22,000 during the same period last year.

    In Connecticut, donations have increased by $20,000 since this time last year, according to Jacky Denicola, events coordinator for the local chapter of the ALS Association.

    The campaign has not only led to a spike in donations but also a better-informed public and increased participation in walks to raise awareness, according to the Connecticut chapter, which says about 200 people in the state have been diagnosed with ALS.

    Other prominent people have taken the challenge, including well-known TV personalities such as "Today" show anchors, Martha Stewart, Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods.