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Are You Up for the Challenge?

Ice Bucket Challenge draws ALS awareness and donations
Posted August 15, 2014

Johns Hopkins #ALSIceBucketChallenge

Johns Hopkins researchers take part in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.

Researchers from the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins take part in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.  Researchers from the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins take part in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge.

Editor's Note: Since this story was originally posted, the Ice Bucket Challenge has resulted in significant exposure for the fight to find a cure for ALS.  Nationally, the ALS Association has been the recipient of $113.6 million in ice bucket proceeds through September 16 and some significant portion of those funds will be directed toward research, including work happening at Johns Hopkins. 

Many new and first time donors gave directly to the Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins, which saw gifts of all sizes from places as far away as New Zealand and Hong Kong.  The center estimates that several hundred thousand dollars have been raised since the challenge began.

If you’ve logged on to Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram lately, you’ve probably witnessed people participating in a strange ritual — dumping buckets of ice water over their heads.   The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is sweeping the nation, bringing awareness and donations for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Started by Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, the challenge has gone viral with the hashtag #ALSIceBucketChallenge or #StrikeoutALS.  Since then, tens of thousands of people have taken the challenge including ALS patients, caregivers, families, friends, celebrities, sports legends and politicians. About two dozen researchers from Johns Hopkins did their part this week, and “passed the bucket” other academic institutions, and the NIH, to follow suit.

Participants are asked to either dump a bucket of ice water over their head or make a donation to the ALS cause.  Many are doing both, as evident by the sharp increase in donations over the past few weeks compared to the same time as last year. The Challenge has now raised over $5 million for ALS-related charities, including the Packard Center at Johns Hopkins.

 “You’ve got to have a sense of humor to do this,” said Rita Sattler, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins. “It’s a fun way raise awareness for something really terrible.”   

While there is currently no cure for ALS, aggressive research and clinical trials, like those conducted at Johns Hopkins, are providing hope that a diagnosis of ALS will one day be considered a chronic condition, rather than a fatal disease.