By Vanessa Kahin
The ice bucket challenge is a charitable effort of the 21st century — spurred by social media, it’s attracted the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Shakira, former President George W. Bush, LeBron James and Stephen King, to name a few.
The challenge, which involves people posting videos online of them having ice water dumped on their head, even has a following for its “bloopers,” instances when the challenge took an unexpected, humorous turn.
The intent behind the online sensation is to raise awareness and funds for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, most commonly known as ALS. Those who accept the ice bucket challenge nominate others to do the same and to donate to ALS awareness and research.
ALS, often referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the baseball player who died from the condition, is a progressive, fatal disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
According to alsa.org, ALS affects about 30,000 Americans. Cynthia Lucio, of Clovis, never heard of the condition until her father, Chano Lucio, was diagnosed in August 2009.
He passed away May 2011.
To honor her father and raise awareness about ALS, Cynthia Lucio did the ice bucket challenge and asked a friend and members of her family to do the same.
“I nominated my uncle Ruben Lucio, my brother Antonio Lucio, my friend Liz Reyes and my cousin Jenette Saenz (to do the ice bucket challenge),” Lucio said. “All have completed their challenge except my brother, who plans to do it this weekend.”
More than $40 million has been raised for the ALS cause since the ice bucket challenge hit social media earlier this summer.
Aside from doing the challenge, Lucio said she’s been involved with Walk for a Cure for ALS.
“I love seeing so much awareness and curiosity for this disease,” she said of the challenge. “It’s a terrible disease to experience … and watch someone who once was so independent need so much help.
“It’s wonderful to see so much support around the world.”
Eastern New Mexico has its share of support for the ALS cause; as well as ice bucket challenges.
Clovis Christian Schools football Coach Josh Johnson said he hopes the challenge he helped instigate will positively affect a much greater area.
Johnson posted a video to the school’s Facebook page in which he and three senior football players — Will Ramsey, J.V. Perales and Tucker Fly — gave a definition of ALS and challenged others to join and promote the effort.
Johnson said that he — along with the school’s varsity football team and two assistant coaches — took the challenge. Furthermore, the school’s challenge motivated some of Johnson’s former colleagues in the Dallas area to do the same.
“I never challenged any of them, so it’s pretty cool,” Johnson said.
Although not personally affected by ALS, Johnson said he was inspired to do the challenge by the story of former professional football player Steve Gleason, who played for the New Orleans Saints from 2000-2008.
Gleason was diagnosed with ALS in 2011.
“His health went downhill after he was diagnosed,” Johnson said. “(Gleason’s) a father, and I’m a father, too.
“Although (ALS) doesn’t affect me, it affects others.”
Staff members at Clovis Community College have also inspired colleagues to take on the ice bucket challenge; and the line of challenges and nominations they started crossed state lines to inspire staff members and students at West Texas A&M.
It all began as “something fun (for the) first week of school,” said Scott Knauer, publications and website coordinator for CCC.
Knauer planned the making of an ice bucket challenge video with CCC’s Director of Academics Advising Marcus Smith. The idea attracted what Knauer described as a small crowd, which included Lisa Spencer, director of marketing and community relations; Becky Rowley, CCC president, and several students. They also donated to the fight against ALS.
“We then challenged our counterparts at Eastern New Mexico University to take the challenge as well,” Knauer said. Members of ENMU’s staff and administration accepted and fulfilled the challenge; and in turn, nominated WTA&M.
“It’s fun to watch the chain of events,” Knauer said. “Just the simple act of us challenging some counterparts in Portales … could do something regional.”
Spencer called the challenge a “very interesting phenomenon.
“It’s just real interesting to see how social media is now being used for fundraising,” she said.