Many still don’t know what exactly ALS is

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is raising awareness for the disease

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Friends challenge friends to it, celebrities and even the New England Patriots are doing it; the “Ice Bucket Challenge” for ALS.

“It’s all over Facebook. All my friends are doing it. I think it’s great because it raises awareness,” said Lauren Nitroy of Pittsfield.

Erin Doherty of West Springfield said, “A lot of people are private about those types of things and just knowing that they have support is all that really helps them maybe get courage throughout the day to continue going.”

It’s raised awareness, but many still don’t know what exactly ALS is. 22News spoke with Baystate Neurologist Dr. Anant Shenoy. He said, “ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a disorder of the nervous system where the nerve cells in he brain and the spinal cord degenerate and when that happens, people have weakness in the arms and legs and they’ll have thinning in their muscles.”

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” says either pour a bucket of ice on your head, or donate 100 dollars to the ALS Association, but doctors and members of the association say they’re just glad that so much awareness is being raised of this neurodegenerative disease.

Shannon Wheeler of the Massachusetts Chapter of the ALS Association said recently she’s noticed volunteers are now donating in addition to pouring the ice water on their heads.

“Our office has taken almost 400,000 dollars in the past three weeks and nationally, the ALS Association has taken over 5 million dollars in the past three weeks,” said Wheeler.

There is no cure for ALS, but this money pays for treatment and equipment and funds research in hopes of someday finding a cure.

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