Ice Bucket Challenge
Local leaders take part in raising awareness
Wednesday, September 3, 2014 1:00 PM
Ice water has been raining down across the country, especially on Facebook, in part to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS.
Dubbed the Ice Water Challenge, willing participants take an icy cold shower and donate $10 to the ALS Foundation or skip the dousing and donate $100.
The craze has included former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, as well as entertainers and athletes. In Mississippi and Madison County, several officials have also taken the challenge.
Ronnie McGehee, Madison County School District Superintendent, had cold ice dumped on him in front of 6,000 fans during Madison Central High School's season-opening football game two weeks ago.
Even though the game was rained out later, McGehee took the plunge with MCHS Principal Austin Brown.
"I think it is very important to fund efforts to cure ALS and that's certainly what we did," McGehee said. "We made quite the public spectacle. It meant a lot to me because I grew up watching Lou Gehrig play and so did a lot of guys my age. It really hit home."
For Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee, the challenge was a lot more personal.
McGee lost his brother to what he called a "terrible disease" and has two friends currently battling with the disease.
"It hit really close for me," McGee said. "I think it's really great to raise awareness and some money for the cause. I keep those suffering in my prayers."
To date, the Ice Water Challenge has raised $100 million and donations in the region have increased tremendously.
Jamie Craig director of Development and Community Relations for the Louisiana/Mississippi Chapter of ALSA, said that they have raised about four times as much as they had last year. They are up to $177,000 for the region.
"It's been pretty overwhelming," he said. "It's something the community has been waiting for. People took the challenge and really have been giving."
Brandi Nickles with the Louisiana/Mississippi Chapter of ALSA, said the spike in awareness has been incredible. She explained that awareness is an underrated thing and described "the chatter' as "incredible."
"What we are receiving in awareness is far greater than what we are receiving in funds," she said. "My job has kind of blown up."
Nickles was involved in the challenges of Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
She said it was a great pleasure to stand with First Lady Deborah Bryant and dump ice water on her husband.
The Madison Chick fil A is hosting a fundraiser tonight (Thursday, Sept. 4) from 5-7 p.m. for Richie Edmondson, a Madison resident suffering from ALS.
The trademark cow will do the ice water dumping.