CAROL STREAM – Participants of a day program for adults with disabilities got plenty of buckets, ice water and shivers down their spines as they completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Thursday in Carol Stream.
Six members of the Western DuPage Special Recreation Association's Rec & Roll Day Program took on the challenge after receiving the call to action from the EAGLES adult day program at SEASPAR Special Parks and Recreation in Downers Grove.
“It made me feel special,” Rec & Roll participant Emma Ross said. “This is like my second family. My grandma told me life is everything and to share and embrace it.”
The challenge, which aims to raise money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, has become a viral phenomenon through social media.
ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.
To complete the challenge, ice water must be poured onto an individual while someone records a video. Participants then post their videos to social media and challenge friends to do the same to pledge support for ALS funding and treatment.
As of Friday, Ice Bucket donations to The ALS Association reached $53.3 million, according to the organization's website. During the same time period last year, the association had received just $2.2 million.
Claire Gioia, head instructor of Rec & Roll, said participants watched an educational video about ALS before they did the challenge. Gioia herself also got chilly for ALS in front of the Rec & Rollers 30 minutes before they did it.
“It’s definitely cold and shocks your body. You tighten up and get tense,” Gioia said. “They were excited to see me get ice poured on my head.”
WDSRA serves more than 4,500 children and adults with special needs through more than 1,500 recreational programs, trips and annual events, according to its website.
The Rec & Roll program, which has locations in Carol Stream, Glen Ellyn and Naperville, provides educational and recreational services to people with disabilities who are 18 years and older.
Before completing the Ice Bucket Challenge with her fellow program members, Ross challenged the Naperville site to do it too.
Destiny Davis, head instructor for Naperville’s Rec & Roll Day Program, said the location has accepted the challenge, and eight program participants will do it.
“It’s for a really good cause. I’m happy our organization is getting involved,” Davis said. “It brings joy to my life working with them. They’re always so happy, and it’s never a boring day.”
Ross also challenged the STARS adult day program at Fox Valley Special Recreation Association in Aurora and WDSRA Director Sandy Gbur to have ice water poured on their heads, said Dori Napolitano, WDSRA day programs manager.
After the Carol Stream Rec & Rollers completed the challenge, Napolitano sent their video to EAGLES coordinator Dawn Krawiec to share with her group, who were eager to see the results of their challenge to the Rec & Roll program.
“Tomorrow we’ll show our group the video," Krawiec said Thursday. "They’re anxious to see Rec & Roll do the challenge."
How to help
For more information about ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge, visit The ALS Association's website at alsa.org.