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Catching Up: ALS challenge this year was only 'drop in the bucket'

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A mega ice bucket challenge in honor of former Racine resident and ALS patient Jon LeGath took place in the summer of 2014 in Racine’s Monument Square.

Last summer, there was no escaping the Ice Bucket Challenge, or at least watching friend after friend on Facebook getting doused with a bucket of ice water.

The stunt, traced back to a Boston College student who was diagnosed with ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, two years earlier, raised $115 million for the ALS Association in the summer of 2014. Statewide, $285,000 was raised.

On Aug. 1, the ALS Association reintroduced the challenge for 2015 to raise money and try to establish it as an annual happening.

The 2015 Ice Bucket Challenge raised only $25,000 locally, said Melanie Roach-Bekos, executive director of the Wisconsin chapter of the ALS Association.

“This was ‘a drop in the bucket’ compared to 2014, but we are grateful for the continued ALS awareness and support,” Roach-Bekos said. Each dollar given to the state ALS chapter stays in the state to help ALS patients and their families, she said.

Half goes toward research and half goes toward local ALS care, services and programs. Some of the Wisconsin money helps support the state’s only ALS certified clinic, at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

The national association has not yet released a figure for 2015, but other sources are reporting $500,000, Roach-Bekos said.

Currently, there is no cause, cure or treatment for ALS, something unacceptable to Roach-Bekos.

According to association statistics, about 30,000 Americans may currently be affected by ALS. The average life expectancy for a person with ALS is two to five years from the time of diagnosis.

“It is so very important that we keep talking about ALS because long after the ice has melted, we are still searching for a cure,” Roach-Bekos said.

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