Lee takes the plunge for ALS

Lee takes the plunge for ALS

Standing together, Lee faculty completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.(Photo by Peri McIntosh)

Many Lee students and faculty decided to sacrifice their dry clothes and a little humility this past month, as students, faculty, and President Paul Conn all accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Conn, along with Vice President for Academic Affairs Deborah Murray, Vice President of Student Development Michael Hayes, Vice President of Enrollment Phillip Cook and Vice President for Business and Finance Christopher Conine all got soaked for the worthy cause.  Arms linked, the selected faculty put their own twist on the challenge by bringing in a bulldozer of ice water to dump over their heads as students watched and cheered nearby.

Conn and the faculty accepted the challenge in honor of Susan Rogers, who was a former professor for the Department of Language and Literature. Rogers was named Distinguished Alumnus for the Language and Literature Department in 2013. She passed away from ALS in May 2014.

The challenge began in late July 2014 to raise money and awareness in support of the ALS Association. The challenge quickly went viral, as videos began pouring into social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

When nominated, participants have 24 hours to either make a donation in support of ALS or dump a bucket of ice water over their heads.

Many famous faces and political figures, such as Justin Timberlake, Stephan Spielberg, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former President George W. Bush all took the challenge in show of support.

However, celebrities have not been the only participants dousing themselves for a good cause. The members of Theta Kappa Omega (TKO) used their Drive-in on the Green event, which is sponsored by First Year Programs, to take the challenge and collect donations.

Staff Sponsor of TKO Jared Raines discussed the reason why TKO accepted the challenge, which was originally given to them by the members of Pi Kappa Pi.

'Ultimately, this is for a good cause. One of the goals of the campaign [the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge] is to promote awareness for ALS,' Raines said. 'We [wanted to] be a vessel to spread that information, and also possibly collect some money [for the cause] in the process by doing it.'

ALS is known mostly for its connection to the famous first baseman for the New York Yankees Lou Gehrig, and has become the topic of many discussions as millions take the now infamous challenge

According to the ALS Association, ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal chord.

Junior nursing student Dottie Hays' uncle, Dr. James 'Scooter' Hays Jr., passed away from ALS in August 2011.

Within two weeks of his diagnosis, Dr. Hays, who was a successful OB/GYN in Knoxville, Tennessee, had a tracheal tube put in to help him breathe. Diagnosed with Bulbar ALS, the most aggressive form of ALS, he was given a mere nine months to live.

'In the beginning he could walk around' and then slowly he had to rely on his electric wheelchair and then that was it.  He couldn't get around, and [then eventually] he had to talk by using his I-Pad," Hays said when speaking about the quick progression of her uncle's disease.

In the end ALS often leaves its victims without a voice, unable to speak. So, when Hays heard about the viral challenge a week before school began, she knew she had to get involved.

'I find it fantastic," Hays said. "Before, unless you watched baseball, you only heard about Lou Gehrig and not a lot more was talked about."

According to alsa.org, the ALS Association has received $88.5 million in donations as of August 26, 2014, which is a significant increase in comparison to the $2.6 million during the same time last year.

"That is a lot of money they didn't have even a couple weeks ago,' Hays said.

'Social media is really powerful, and you can get a message across just by starting something like the Ice Bucket Challenge,' Hays said.

Hays completed her Ice Bucket Challenge on August 22 in memory of her uncle, Dr. Hayes.

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