New Westminster fire chief Tim Armstrong

COLUMN: Ice buckets could lead to ALS cure

People around the globe are pouring buckets of ice water on their heads. It might just lead to a cure for ALS.

I’m sure that in the large ad agencies across the world, high paid executives who are in charge of producing multi-million dollar publicity campaigns for their clients are pulling their hair out. “Why didn’t anyone here think of asking people to dump buckets of ice water on their heads to promote our clients?”

Around the globe, people are standing in plastic wading pools on their patios or gathering in parks or stadiums.

With little or no cost involved, they are simply dumping ice water on their heads to raise money for ALS.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that is usually fatal in 36 to 48 months after a severe weakening of the muscles.

Like all other major diseases, there is constant research and fundraising and awareness campaigns.

However, since early July, the ice bucket campaign has raised over $53 million, and the challenges keep coming.

People of all ages and walks of life share their squealing, shuddering and shaking videos, then challenge friends and family and send off their $10 to the cause. It’s a lot of fun.

Unless of course you have ALS.

The entire challenge started when Pete Frates, a young, healthy Boston College baseball player, was diagnosed with ALS in 2013.

He could have given up and gone home but knowing he only had a short time, he began speaking to groups and committees and agencies that could make a difference.

Then a couple of friends did the challenge as a fundraiser. Thanks to YouTube and the internet, it took off.

Of course, there are critics out there who tell us not to support ALS research because of their testing methods.

Others are chiding us for wasting clean water when millions in the world are dying of thirst and more will tell us that the cures are already out there but the drug companies are keeping them secret to sell more pills. We are reminded that the electronic media gives everyone a soapbox and we  always hear from all sides.

In the past week, I have been at a celebration of life, and a celebration of 50 years of marriage.

At both events, there were Power Point presentations covering the last 50 to 60 years. The different fads and fashions were displayed and we were reminded of everything from poodle skirts to hula hoops, huge tail fins to powder blue leisure suits.

I have no doubt that one day, 25 years from now, some hologram in my room at the home will be reminding us of the ice bucket challenges of the summer of 2014 that helped eradicate a disease that nobody contracts anymore.

Hopefully it will be followed by a side story of all the other diseases we used to get that have been cured. If it takes a few million people dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, so be it. After all, if the public keeps providing the money for health research, the government can keep spending money on weapons, corruption and pollution.

I accepted the challenge and poured my bucket on my head and sent in my money. When that news piece comes on 25 years from now, I want to be able to say, “I was a part of that cure.”

And I hope the staff in that home says “If he tells that stupid golf joke again, he’s going to get another ice bucket.”

Jim McGregor is a writer and poet who, until 2006, was also Langley City fire chief.



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