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Schools put on ‘ice’

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Officials take part in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

There’s a bone chilling trend sweeping the nation.

The viral phenomenon known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has recently taken America by storm. The challenge involves someone pouring a bucket of ice water over his or her head then challenging others do the same or make a donation to fight ALS within twenty-four hours.

It’s not just all fun and games, though. The challenge is about raising awareness and educating the public on what the disease actually is.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS patients lose function in their nerve cells, which weakens the muscles until a patient can no longer move, speak or breathe. The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years from time of diagnosis.

Bossier Schools Superintendent D.C. Machen was challenged Tuesday by Benton Middle School’s administration, so he asked Board members Glen Bullard, Frank Kelly, Mike Mosura and Tammy Smith to join him.

The fight against ALS (or Lou Gehrig’s disease) is a personal one for Machen. As he explained to students prior to taking the challenge, Machen took the challenge in honor of his long-time friend Randy Wilson.

Wilson, who was Machen’s college roommate and groomsman at his wedding, passed away two years ago from ALS. Not only did Machen take the challenge with honor, but he made a donation to the ALS Association as well.

School Board member Tammy Smith also made a donation in memory of Mike Glasgow and the late Mr. Orso, the grandfather of former Board member Dr. Allison Brigham.

Once Machen and the board members issued their challenge, it was time to take the challenge. With buckets raised, students at Benton Middle School had the honor of dousing the five school officials.

“It’s really that cold,” Machen exclaimed after completing the challenge. “The shock of when it hits will get you.”

Following the challenge at Benton Middle, Benton High School administrators accepted the challenge and were doused in front of students gathered in the school’s courtyard.

Students raised and donated more than $500 to the ALS Association. Principal Mitch Downey and Assistant Principals Teri Howe and Arthur James challenged Assistant Superintendent Scott Smith and Parkway High administrators Dr. Nichole Bourgeois, Becky Gray and Coach Lorenza Baker.

Haughton Middle School also accepted Benton Middle’s challenge this week. The student body donated more than $1,000 to the ALS Association and enjoyed watching Principal Waylon Bates and Assistant Principals Sharon Glasscock and Rick Warren take cold ice baths. They, in turn, have challenged the administration at Haughton High School and Elm Grove Middle School.

In a statement from the Bossier Schools: “we are pleased to be a part of the fight against ALS, by raising both awareness and research dollars in hopes of one day finding a cure.”

“I’m so proud of these young people and their desire to continue to reach out and meet the needs of others,” Machen said. “It clearly demonstrates that our community has done a great job teaching our children the importance of helping those in need. We’re honored that we could help the cause.”

As of Aug. 25, the ALS Association reports that more than $79 million has been raised through the Ice Bucket Challenge.

The ALS Association’s mission is “to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through global cutting-edge research, and to empower people with Lou Gehrig’s Disease and their families to live fuller lives by providing them with compassionate care and support.”

Links to ALS Challenge videos can be found on the Bossier Schools Facebook page.