Why I took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Monday I dumped a recycling box full of ice water on my head to help raise awareness of ALS.

There are a lot of reasons why I did the ALS ice bucket challenge, but one of the biggest was that I was wearing my purple ALS awareness bracelet at the same time. No one has ever noticed when I wore the ALS bracelet. Ten people liked my bucket challenge on Facebook in an hour.

A dozen years ago I didn't really know anything about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I knew it killed New York Yankees legend Lou Gehrig and I thought of it as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Then someone I knew was diagnosed with it — Joanne Peterson. Joanne's son Mark was one of three 15-year-olds that played for the Moose Jaw AAA Warriors in the first season Ray Wareham took over as head coach. 

Peterson would finish his career as the co-captain of the midget AAA team, but midway through his three years in Moose Jaw his mom was diagnosed with ALS. She was a nurse and never missed a game. The joke in his rookie season was that anyone who was injured had to be medically cleared by the team first and then by Petey's mom second.

“She is like a mother to all of us,” former AAA Warrior Preston Mosewich said nine years ago. “She never missed a game. As a nurse, you knew that first you had to get (trainer) John (Bye)’s okay, then a doctor’s okay and then if Mrs. Peterson gave you the okay you could get back in the lineup.

“There are things in life you won’t forget and people you will always remember. Mrs. Peterson taught us so much about staying positive in hockey and in life. Her strength and courage are an inspiration to all of us. On behalf of all of the AAA Warriors past and present I want to thank you for everything.”

ALS is a fatal neurodegenerative disease — essentially it attacks the motor neurons in the brain that transmit electrical impulses to the muscles. As they fail to receive messages, the muscles lose strength, atrophy and die.

It's like watching someone's body begin to systematically fail them piece by piece. Most people die from the disease because they can no longer breathe or lose the ability to swallow.

Most people die 2-5 years after their diagnosis. Lou Gehrig died two years after his diagnosis.

When Mark Peterson finished his midget AAA career the team honoured his mother with their award for character and determination — the Jaret MacDiarmid Award. She accepted the award in a wheelchair and had difficulty speaking.

She died shortly thereafter.

Mark got married this summer, is a promising young coach and is hosting a burger night to raise money for ALS in Saskatoon Thursday (you can see details here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/353555544793220

There is a little backlash over the ALS ice bucket challenge. I understand that ALS is getting funding right now that is disproportionate to how many people contract the disease. That being said, this is ALS's moment. It's unlikely that their funding will ever reach levels like they have this year.

People should donate to what they care about and not blindly follow trends, but I don't know anyone who has seen someone battle ALS who doesn't appreciate the awareness the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised.

I neglected to mention it in my ALS ice bucket challenge video — this is why I'm horrible on TV — but I am also donating $100 to the ALS Society of Saskatchewan.

I was challenged by Marc Smith from Golden West radio to do the ALS ice bucket challenge. I challenged former Warriors captain and CHL Humanitarian of the Year Sam Fioretti who has already done the challenge. 

I'm hoping to have a long blog post up later Wednesday night or Thursday morning with more Warriors camp notes and thoughts. Thanks to the people who have complimented the posts so far from camp.


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