I’m sure you’ve seen the Ice Bucket Challenge videos that have been popping up all over social media lately.
Warning: NSFW Language
I saw a bunch of them before I even knew what they were about. Was it some sort of viral thing like Neknominations?
No, I eventually realized that it is for ALS research… But it seems kinda silly. How does it help research for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis if you dump a bucket of water over your head instead of donating money?
Mike Judson hit the nail on the head when he did an interview with The Wolf & Kruz FM’s Jeanne Pengelly.
Judson says he felt the ice bucket challenge should be more about ALS and less about the person in the video, so he turned down Calderwood’s ice-water challenge, and flipped it into the wheelchair challenge. Today, Ken Elrick II of KRUZ and The Wolf is also taking the challenge. They will nominate others to do the same, or donate to ALS.
“I felt like an icy bucket of water on your head instead of a donation wasn’t really going to help the same way. I took issue with it. And if I’m going to take issue with it, I felt I should put my money where my mouth is,” he said.
I was honored to be one of Mike’s nominations to do the ALS Wheelchair Challenge. And it only makes sense: How does a refreshing splash on a warm summer day relate to what sufferers of ALS deal with? Even doing 24 hours in a wheelchair, you only experience a tiny sliver of what the average person afflicted with this awful disease deals with on a regular basis: the loss of anything more than basic mobility. But the full effects of ALS are much more devastating.
Some Quick Facts from the ALS Society of Canada:
- ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- ALS is a rapidly progressive neuromuscular disease. In sufferers of it: Motor nerve cells die, Voluntary muscles degenerate, The senses are unimpaired and the intellect may remain unaffected, and those living with ALS become progressively paralyzed, eventually losing the ability to even swallow or breathe.
- It’s a fatal disease with no cure or treatment yet.
- 80% of those afflicted with ALS die within 2-5 years of diagnosis
- Some can die within a few months.
- About 10% of ALS sufferers will live 10 years or longer with the disease
- ALS can affect anyone.
- About 2,500 to 3,000 Canadians are currently living with ALS
- It affects both men and women of any ethnicity and socio-economic group
- ALS can strike young and very elderly adults, but is most commonly diagnosed in middle to late adulthood
Having done a little bit of research, I approached the challenge as best I could with the knowledge I’d gained, and headed up to MediChair Peterborough to pick up the wheelchair they’d offered up for anyone taking on the#ALSWheelchairChallenge.
Note: To make it so that we can still somewhat get around, Mike’s rules for the competition were based on a note he’d gotten from a woman named Barbara who had lost her husband to ALS years ago. Ultimately, we are to imagine we’re in the early stages of the disease, meaning we can still get out of the wheelchair to take a couple steps here and there, get in and out of a vehicle, drive, etc. Going up stairs would have to be done sliding on one’s posterior up one step at a time, dragging the wheelchair behind.
— Medichair Trent (@MedichairTrent) August 19, 2014
Apparently the Patchbus did not go unnoticed in the parking lot.
— Sarah Reurekas RMT (@rmtsarah) August 19, 2014
And the first thing on the agenda was to head out to lunch with Mike. We had some troubles at first…
But eventually got settled in and enjoyed a nice meal.
— Mike Judson (@Mike_Judson) August 19, 2014
After that, it was time to head to work. Luckily, the Wolf/Kruz office building is fairly accessible, though there were still a couple challenges along the way.
Even still, I got bored of sitting in one place, so I made a few laps around the office just for the hell of it.
— Ryan Lalonde (@rylalonde) August 19, 2014
Then, once I was about finished up at work, it was time to talk a bit about the challenge and the cause, and make my nominations!
So, this brings us to the nominations section. I chose The Wolf’s own Steve Kearns, the YWCA’s Nicole Pare, and Domino’s Pizza Peterborough franchisee Allan Hill. To my delight, both Steve and Allan have taken me up on the challenge to stay in a wheelchair for 24 hours, and Nicole (who is a mom of 4 and would have trouble caring for her family in a wheelchair) has made a donation to ALS Canada. Way to go guys!
Once work was done, my next challenge was getting into my van to head home.
I did eventually get in and home. Actually getting in the house was the next challenge to overcome.
Fortunately, not long after I got home, my roommateCole showed up and said he’d cook dinner for me. We had to take a trip to the grocery store, however, which was another great learning experience.
After we had made it back home and eaten dinner, Cole took off for the night, and I chilled around the house until I was pretty sure I wouldn’t need to go anywhere else. Then I got situated on the couch since my hallway is too narrow to get the chair to my bedroom.
Luckily, my girlfriend Anne came over once she was done work at around 1:30 AM, and made a bit of food when she got in, before helping me to bed. I was lucky she was there because I wouldn’t have been able to make it to my own bed otherwise.
After sleeping away the wee hours, I got Anne to help me to my chair again and got ready to put the wraps on the Wheelchair Challenge.
And then, I wheeled myself over to Kearnsy’s place to give him the wheelchair that the MediChair folks had so kindly lent to me. Fortunately, he only lives a couple blocks away from me. If I’d had to go much further I don’t know how successful I would have been. In fact, that short jaunt was probably the most difficult part of the whole thing… But then again, I only experienced the tiniest bit of what someone dealing with this awful disease (or anyone who needs a wheelchair to get around) has to face EVERY DAY. It certainly was a humbling experience.
Here I am passing the torch.
I’ve since made a donation to ALS Canada and ask that, if you are able, you do the same. Click HERE to donate. And let’s keep the #ALSWheelchairChallenge going!