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What the Ice Bucket Challenge means to Faulkner County

Posted: September 1, 2014 - 2:24pm
Log Cabin Democrat Editor Ricky Duke takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with help from a coworker. RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON STAFF PHOTO
Log Cabin Democrat Editor Ricky Duke takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with help from a coworker. RACHEL PARKER DICKERSON STAFF PHOTO

It seems like just about everyone has taken the Ice Bucket Challenge, which, in just 30 days has spread around the globe and raised $100 million from 3 million donors for ALS research, according to the ALS Association.

Social media news feeds have been filled with people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. Locally, the challenge has been accepted by everyone from small children to CEOs.

The Conway Parks and Recreation Department (challenged by the Conway Corporation electric department) made one of the more impressive videos seen on social media, with two rows of employees dumping buckets of water in a systematic style. They challenged the staff of Conway City Hall, who responded with gusto if not the same cinematic skill. City hall challenged the Conway Area Chamber of Commerce, who completed the challenge and then dared several other chambers of commerce.

The presidents of Conway’s three colleges all took the challenge. President Tom Courtway of the University of Central Arkansas dedicated his challenge to the memory of John Stanton, a close friend who died from ALS. Courtway completed the task alongside Dr. Brad Teague, athletic director at UCA.

Dr. William Tsutsui, president of Hendrix, braved the cold water flanked by senior executive vice president Ellis Arnold and athletic director Amy Weaver.

“That is refreshing!” Tsutsui exclaimed in the video.

Central Baptist College President Terry Kimbrow was willingly drenched by several cheering, vessel-wielding students at the school’s annual Mud Night.

Conway Realtor Matt Grissom has watched it all unfold with great interest. His father, Lanny Grissom, died of ALS several years ago. Matt Grissom was 15 at the time.

“A year ago, I bet 90 percent of the population didn’t know what ALS was. It’s awesome,” he said of the Ice Bucket Challenge. “I heard — I don’t know how true it is — that in that split second when the ice water hits you, it shuts down your central nervous system. You can’t talk, you can’t move. You can’t do anything but think about how cold the water is. And that’s kind of what it’s like having ALS.”

According to the ALS Association, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, people with ALS lose the ability to initiate and control muscle movement, which often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis. There is no cure.”

Grissom said, “Donald Trump challenged Barack Obama. Charlie Sheen dumped a bucket of $10,000 over his head and said he was donating it. People are getting creative with it. It’s making people aware. AIDS has the red ribbon, breast cancer has the pink ribbon, and ALS has people dumping ice water all over them. I’m all for it. People are obviously becoming more aware of it, and because of that they’re more apt to make donations. Not everybody has the means to donate $10,000, but every bit helps. At least you’re aware it exists. We need to find a cure.”

The exact origins of the Ice Bucket Challenge are a bit unclear, but online research shows that the Golf Channel brought the first widespread awareness to people doing the challenge on social media. When former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who has ALS, got involved, celebrities joined in, driving donations and the popularity of the fad.

However it started, it has certainly made its way through this community.

In their group challenge video, Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson, County Attorney David Hogue, County Administrator Tom Anderson, Glen Willhite and Mark Ledbetter used a bit of creative thinking. The “bucket” was actually that of a piece of large machinery, and there were two of them. On a more somber note, two real estate companies, Greg Hunt of Sandstone Real Estate Group and the ERA Team Real Estate team dedicated their challenges to the memory of Lanny Grissom.

Matt Grissom said, “If dumping a bucket of ice water on your head does nothing more than your 10 best friends on Facebook see it and laugh at it, that’s 10 more people that are learning about (ALS).”

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)

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