Ice bucket challenge impacting local ALS patients - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Ice bucket challenge impacting local ALS patients

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - The "ice bucket challenge" is taking the Scenic City and nation by storm. Videos of people dumping ice cold water over their heads are raising awareness and millions of dollars for the ALS Association.   

Until the last few weeks as these videos have gone viral, many people didn't even know what ALS is. It's often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It has no known cause or cure and those diagnosed typically only live two to five more years. It's very debilitating and very expensive. That's why those affected locally say they're so moved at the unprecedented participation in the ice bucket challenge.

It starts with a bucket full of ice cold water. Then the person donating to the ALS Association dumps it over their heads and splashes the videos of it all over social media.

From Chattanooga Police, to the Lookouts, families and political leaders, each person calls out to challenge the next.

Channel 3 Sports Director Paul Shahen accepted the challenge from friends Wednesday.

"Everyone's talking about it. It's on the today show. Famous people are doing it. It's just truly amazing," ALS Association TN Chapter Care Coordinator Shannon Silberman said.

But for Silberman, these videos are more than a trend. It's raising awareness for the disease that took her mom Debbie's life at 47.

"It's hard when a lot of my friends have their moms to talk to and they have these great relationships with them. I just kind of feel like I got cheated," Silberman said.

She says her mom would be proud of how many people are spreading the word about ALS and what it does to those diagnosed. Patients can lose the ability to walk, talk, eat, even breathe on their own.

"It literally robs you from everything," she said.

Since the ice bucket challenge took off a few weeks ago, the ALS Association has received a record $31.5 million in donations, which far surpassed last year's $1.9 million during the same time period, July 29 - August 20. It's money that will be used for research and to help patients get needed equipment like wheelchairs, neck braces and communication devices.

"We kind of cover that gap with our programs that insurance won't cover if people don't have the ability to pay for it financially," Silberman said.

The local ALS chapter is currently serving around 20 ALS patients in the Chattanooga area, but they know there are more who don't know about the services available to them.

For more information on the local ALS Association services, visit www.alstn.org or call Care Coordinator Shannon Silberman at (423) 490-7707.

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