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'Ice Bucket Challenge' floods social media, aids ALS awareness

By Rana Novini, Anchor/Reporter, r.novini@krdo.com
Published On: Aug 13 2014 11:27:43 PM CDT

It's a shock to the system for a good cause.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

It's a shock to the system for a good cause.

The "Ice Bucket Challenge" is meant to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.  People record themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads and then challenge someone else to do it next. 

Robin Rogers, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2011, said she's thrilled at the attention the campaign is bringing to the disease that changed her life.

"What a brilliant way to make it fun, but raise awareness because this is a disease not many people know about," Rogers said. "It's exciting to finally have people paying attention."

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.

Rogers said she started showing symptoms in 2005.

"I was climbing Pikes Peak and had on a brand-new pair of boots," she said. "When I got to the top, I looked down and my right boot was all beat up from dragging over the rocks and my left boot still looked new. I thought, 'That's interesting.' I didn't realize I was dragging my feet over the rocks."

According to the ALS Association, the disease most commonly strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.

"It's really quite an ugly disease," Rogers said. "There's no cure. There's no treatment and it's 100-percent terminal so it's quite a shock."

Rogers said she considers herself lucky because, for her, the disease is progressing slowly.

"In my case, it started in my legs," she said. "It's a challenge. It's a struggle 24 hours a day. Every minute of every day it's tough, but you also realize that you need to make the most of it. You need to because we all have something. We're all going to pass away at some point. I just happen to know what it is that gets me."

The life expectancy for those with ALS is two to five years.  Since proper diagnosis and care can be difficult, many succumb to the illness much sooner.

Tom Glover lost his brother, Bob, to ALS in December 2013.  

"They told him he had three to five years to live," Glover said. "He lasted seven weeks."

Glover said he was excited about the Ice Bucket Challenge because not only is it raising awareness, it's raising money.

"Everybody's heart of cancer and AIDS and diabetes and heart disease, but ALS is alive and kicking," Glover said.

Between July 29 and Aug. 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received a $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year.

"We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease," said Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of The ALS Association. "We couldn't be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.

"While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible, the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable. People who have never before heard of ALS are now engaged in the fight to find treatments and a cure for ALS."

In memory of his brother and to "kick ALS," Tom took the Ice Bucket Challenge today.  

Afterward, he said he felt his brother was watching, and laughing.

"I'd like to challenge anybody," he said. "America, wake up. Let's do the challenge."

Rogers, who is the executive director of the Police Protective Association, nominated Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey.

"I wanna see him get dumped on really bad with some cold water," she said with a laugh.

To learn more about ALS and how to contribute toward finding a cure, click here.

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