The amount of icy water spilled over the heads of ALS supporters over the last month may be countless, but not the impact it will create.
The ALS Association has announced that $100.9 million has been raised over the last 30 days, which far eclipses the $2.8 million raised during the same time frame last year.
The Catfish Hunter Chapter of ALS, which serves the Triad and other parts of North Carolina, expects some of that money to support the ALS Center at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.
It’s a treatment and research facility that serves patients with the motor neuron disease which attacks the brain and spinal cord.
“It’s something that everyone needs to be concerned about,” said James Caress, M.D. “There’s no real risk factors, it’s something that could happen to me tomorrow.”
The center is one of two in centers in the state that combines treatment with clinical trials for things like drug testing.
“Practicing neurologists see this once or twice a year, they don’t have a population of folks, so by creating these clinics, not only do you improve care but also provide a way of concentrating everyone so we can do research,” said Caress.
The center at Wake Forest Baptist accepts about 100 new patients each year. Harold Garrett was one of those patients last year.
“I didn’t know what ALS was until I found out I had it,” said Garrett.
Garrett credits the medical staff at Baptist for using innovative techniques like a diaphragm pacer to help him continue to talk.
“At one point, it was getting so bad I thought within 30 days I wouldn’t be able to talk at all but it all turned around,” said Garrett.
The ALS group also uses donations to help families struggling to find wheelchairs, beds and other equipment to deal with the debilitating disease.
Both Garrett and Caress hope that the ice bucket challenge goes beyond just being a great fundraiser they hope it elevates awareness as well.
“We’re getting to talk to people about ALS the word is now getting out we’re moving beyond the phenomenon of the challenge into what does this disease mean, how does it impact people’s lives,” said Caress.