Rocky Fork Enterprise

Students, educators take ALS ice-bucket challenge

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Gahanna-Jefferson principals, staff members and students have been accepting the ice-bucket challenge to raise awareness and cash for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Every day an average of 15 people are diagnosed with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord. When these cells die, voluntary muscle control and movement dies with them, according to the ALS Association. Patients in the later stages of the disease are totally paralyzed, yet in most cases, their minds remain sharp and alert.

Pete Frates, a former Division 1 college athlete with Boston College baseball, and his family helped make the "Ice Bucket Challenge" go viral on Facebook and Twitter.

Frates, 29, has lived with ALS since 2012, and he has worked with the ALS Association's Massachusetts chapter to spread awareness about the disease.

Lincoln Elementary School principal Jim Micciulla had a huge tub of ice water dumped on him Aug. 21 after accepting the challenge from Gahanna Middle School East principal Brad Barboza.

"ALS is something that has touched people I care deeply about in my family," Micciulla said. "And I want to make sure to send money to a good cause. So I made my donation, and our staff has done some matching donations as well."

Micciulla said he's matching Lincoln Elementary School staff donations up to $100.

"I am happy to be a part of this big movement to increase awareness and raise funds for ALS research," he said. "My brother-in-law's father lost his life to ALS so it is a cause that means a lot to our family."

Middle School West principal Colon Lewis was challenged by Lincoln High School principal Bobby Dodd.

In his video, Lewis told bucket holders to "Bring it."

"I'm so cool, I didn't feel that," he said.

Lewis said he actually was helping another person with the challenge and half of that ice water was spilled onto him, so he asked for the bucket to be refilled and completed his own challenge.

Middle School South principal Robin Murdock said her school is using the viral philanthropy to raise awareness and share facts.

"We are planning to start Monday (Aug. 25) and run to Sept. 15," Murdock said. "Every $50 raised adds a teacher to the 'dump.' The big dump will be on the 15th. This will be every teacher, staff and me that is nominated."

English teacher Tammy Passa was scheduled to kick it off with the first ice-bucket dump.

Barboza said Middle School East students seem to be enjoying the fundraiser.

"The challenge has sure been a fun way to raise awareness of ALS and raise research money, too," he said. "How did it feel? Cold and wet. And that is a great combo for the 30-minute car ride home."

High school drama director Cindi Macioce was challenged by one of her closest friends, Brian Ritchey.

"He challenged me and my two daughters, Maria (class of 2003) and Juliana (2008), and I am glad to say that Julie did hers the evening she was challenged and Maria did hers that afternoon from NYC, where she lives now," Macioce said. "I personally do not know anyone with ALS, but I did research about the disease after the challenge was sent."

Macioce challenged two colleagues, science teacher Tyler Bruns and English teacher Chris Wagner, as well as her entire Performance Studio 2015 class.

"They accepted the challenge and did it after school the following day, and they nominated other school groups to raise awareness about the disease," Macioce said. "Chris actually did the challenge with me, and the PS kids did the honor of pouring the very big buckets of ice water on our heads. They even went to the scene shop and got extra buckets."

Macioce made a donation to ALS research, in addition to taking the challenge.

Gahanna-Jefferson public-information manager Mallory Sribanditmongkol said Superintendent Francis Scruci also completed the challenge in addition to many coaches and sports teams, including the varsity football staff and boys and girls soccer coaches and seniors.

As of Monday, Aug. 25, the ALS Association had received $79.7 million in donations, according to the organization's website.

The ALS Association's stated mission includes providing care services to assist people with ALS and their families through a network of chapters working in communities across the nation and a global research program focused on the discovery of treatments and eventual cure for the disease.

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