CURWENSVILLE – As part of a recent pep assembly, the Curwensville Area High School administration and varsity coaching staff took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in order to raise money and awareness of ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge happens when a person challenges three others to either dump a bucket of ice water on their heads to post on social media, or to make a donation to the ALS Foundation, or both.
Near the end of August, the Ice Bucket Challenge swept through the Clearfield County area, coinciding with the ESPN news story that covered the money- and awareness-raising phenomenon.
As the ESPN story recounted, Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain, was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 28. In conjunction with professional golfer Chris Kennedy, and friend Pat Quinn, Frates and family initiated the Ice Bucket challenge to help raise awareness of the dangers of the disease and money needed to find a treatment or cure. The response was overwhelming, as the ALS foundation received more than $48 million in a three-day period.
In the local area, signs of the Ice Bucket Challenge started showing up on Facebook and Twitter feeds around Aug. 15, the day the ESPN story was broadcast. Curwensville Area High School 12th grade English teacher Jim Fleming was among local residents to be challenged.
“One of my former students, Justin Sholes, nominated me for the challenge on Facebook. I used it as an opportunity to get the school involved. I asked high school principal William Hayward and Vice Principal Christopher Marsh if they would be willing to participate during our first pep assembly and they were.”
Once word was out that the pep assembly would be the scene of an Ice Bucket Challenge, elementary gym teacher, Dawna Wheeler, and seventh grade English teacher, Shannon Siple, got involved and nominated all of the varsity sport head coaches and the rest of the school administration.
Although the weather was threatening that afternoon, nobody’s spirits were dampened. The school gathered on the front lawn to cheers from the cheerleaders, music provided by the Golden Tide Marching Band and encouragement from the football players and the entire CAHS student body and staff.
A week-long fundraiser gave students the opportunity for a chance to be one of the ice bucket dumpers and in turn donate money to the ALS Foundation. At 2:15 p.m., Hayward spoke on behalf of all the participants.
“We challenge the administrative teams and athletic staffs of West Branch, Glendale, Harmony and the CCCTC [Clearfield County Career & Technology Center].” And with that, the pouring of ice water commenced, right before Mother Nature added her own downpour.
Hayward believes that activities like this are an important part of high school education and community involvement.
“It was an honor to be part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. If our participation raises the awareness level of one student to the difficulties that some families face, then it was worth it. It is our job to help build strong, independent, hard-working, empathetic and productive members of our society. If that small gesture helps motivate one person, then we have been successful.”