A challenge to help fund research to cure ALS


First Posted: 8/18/2014

Masha Ackerman, a teacher of toddlers at the Building Blocks learning Center in Dallas, took a direct hit on the head of ice cubes and freezing water from two children in the school’s summer program.

“It was very cold and very awesome,” she said afterwards.

The school was asked by their sister school in Wilkes-Barre to participate in a national program called the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to bring more awareness to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and they hoped to collect a few hundred dollars to donate to the Philadelphia chapter of the ALSA, said Valerie Huntzinger the school’s administrative director.

Huntzinger said they cheated a little because they were “called out” on Friday (the splash ice water dunking is supposed to be done within 24 hours of the challenge) and waited until Monday to ask parents for donations and then extended the challenge to the Meadows Children’s Center across the street.

“We thought we’d just take it to the next level,” she said.

The school presented the concept to about 20 of the older school-aged children in the school’s summer and after-school program. They tried to present the concept of people with disabilities not in a “scary way” but rather in a compassionate way so that the children would have a better understanding of their situation and learn to contribute to help them.

So when all the toddlers were taking their before-lunch nap, the rest of the students snuck outside and poured water on their teachers’ heads.

One teacher, Beth Appleby, from Shavertown, told the sad story of her teenage friend and neighbor, whose father died from ALS. He had been a construction worker and took the family on many vacations until he started slowly losing his mobility and then his speech. One of the last things he was able to do was see his daughter go to her junior prom before he died at the age of 48.

“It was very hard for her,” Appleby said.

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