Last night, I dumped a bucket of ice water on my head. The reason I did that was to join the millions of people world wide accepting the “Ice Bucket Challenge” in order to raise awareness and raise funds for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. The idea is that you either post a video of yourself dumping ice water on your head, or donate $100 to ALS Association. At the end of the video you nominate a couple other people and give them 24 hours to complete the challenge. The crazy part about all of this is it’s actually working!
Why am I doing this?
This month, three years ago, my father passed away from ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. This is not something I usually like to talk about openly but I wanted to share my experience in the hopes of helping to raise awareness and donations for the ALS Foundation.
For those of you that don’t know ALS, it is a progressive, fatal neuromuscular disease that slowly robs the body of its ability to walk, speak, swallow and breathe. The average life expectancy of an ALS patient averages 2 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. My experience was much quicker. My father was diagnosed in March 2011 and passed away that August. Although it was tough at the time to watch my healthy, 55 year-old father go from working everyday to barely being able to get up out of bed and swallow food on his own, I think looking back, it was for the better. I couldn’t imagine having watched my dad slowly suffering as his body deteriorated for more than those 6 months—it was not a way of life.
It was confusing, heartbreaking and definitely tested the strength of my family to pull together and cope with everything that was changing and happening so quickly. ALS did not impact my fathers mental health so it was very difficult to see him everyday feeling trapped in a body that just started shutting down so suddenly and unexplainably.
My father is one of the bravest people I know. He did everything he could to push his body to continue working so he could enjoy every last day he had with us. The doctors told him to stop walking- he continued- they told him to stop eating hamburgers – he continued, even when it took him an hour to get it down. They even let us pour a beer down his feeding tube in the end so that he could have one last drink with us. He never gave in or gave up. He continued cracking jokes and keeping his spirits up until the very end- even better than I did at most points. This was extremely hard on my family and although it is too late for us, I would do anything in my power to prevent other people and families from going through that horrible experience.
I have been so incredibly thrilled to watch the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral on social media these last couple of weeks. Yes, the video is silly and making light of the situation but at the end of the day- fundraising is up 10x what it was last year. I love all the awareness it is raising, and attention it is getting from celebrities. These fundraising efforts are truly going to change peoples lives for the better and I hope one day lead to a cure.
Every year during the Fall, my family and I participate in a Fundraising Walk in San Jose. If you would like to join our team, THE FIGHTING IRISH, or make a donation, visit our ALS page here.
Thank you for the support!