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FACING THE CHALLENGE Two G.I. groups face Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS funding

August 19, 2014

There’s the traditional Ice Bucket Challenge, and then there’s an Ice Bucket Challenge that comes from the bucket on a front-end loader.

Eight staff members at the Nebraska Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island took the Ice Bucket Challenge on Monday morning to raise money and awareness about amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), while also raising awareness about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

The LETC event was done the morning after members of the Densel Rasmussen family did their own Ice Bucket Challenge at Stuhr Museum late Sunday afternoon following an ALS Walk around Eagle Scout Lake.

Andy Marsh, one of Rasmussen’s sons-in-law, said the family took up the Ice Bucket Challenge because Rasmussen was diagnosed with ALS in the spring. Family members gathered at Stuhr Museum because it’s one of Rasmussen’s favorite locations in Grand Island. He has served on both the Stuhr Museum board and Stuhr Foundation board.

The Ice Bucket Challenge features people dumping a bucket of ice-cold water over their heads and posting the video online, challenging three others either to do the same within 24 hours or make a donation to the ALS Association.

Many people taking the challenge have done both.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to muscles throughout the body. When the motor neurons die, the brain loses its ability to initiate and control muscle movement.

Instructor Mark Stephenson said he and fellow LETC instructors and staff members are collecting donations for the ALS Association because they feel particularly strongly about the cause.

The ALS Association is a national, nonprofit organization fighting ALS on every front, including global research, providing assistance for ALS patients through a nationwide network of chapters and coordinating multidisciplinary care through certified clinical care centers.

The association’s goal is to enhance patients’ quality of life while searching for new treatments and a cure for ALS.

Stephenson said the LETC staff got its challenge from two different people: Logan Bronson of the Columbus Police Department and deputy Justin Ruby of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department.

With video rolling just before the front-end loader dumped its icy water on the LETC staff, Stephenson identified each person who had taken the challenge and then issued his own Ice Bucket Challenge to the Nebraska State Patrol Academy instructors, Omaha Police Academy instructors and Lincoln Police Academy instructors.

By continually rolling the challenge forward to others, the ALS Association has been highly successful in raising money. A CNN story said the association reported on Monday that the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $15.6 million just since July 29. That money has come from previous donors, as well as from nearly 308,000 people who have never made a financial contribution to the ALS Association before.

While the LETC responded to a challenge, the Rasmussen Family Challenge is ground zero for the Ice Bucket Challenge in Grand Island.

Todd Clyne, another of Rasmussen’s sons-in-law, said the family has issued a challenge to Bosselman Tank & Trailer, which plans to do its own Ice Bucket Challenge at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Clyne said 26 people from Bosselman Tank & Trailer have committed, with the possibility that even more will participate on Wednesday.

“We’ll use a couple of front-end loaders,” Clyne said. “If we get too many people, we might try to get the volunteer fire department to spray some water up in the air.”

He said the Rasmussen family will be issuing other challenges as well.

Marsh said his father-in-law also has served on the Grand Island Community Foundation board. As a result, the family is asking that contributions to the ALS Association be funneled through the Community Foundation.

Tammy Morris, chief executive officer for the Grand Island Community Foundation, said people who donate for the Ice Bucket Challenge can write a check to the foundation with the notation “ALS,” “ALS Challenge” or “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”

“At the end, we’re going to present a really big check to ALS,” Morris said. She also plans to take the Ice Bucket Challenge herself and will soon have her video posted online.

“This is a really fun way to bring attention to a really important cause in the community,” Morris said. “The Grand Island Community Foundation is honored to be part of this.”

Densel Rasmussen noted he has “been reluctant to be too far out front on this” since getting his own diagnosis in May. However, he said the Ice Bucket Challenge, the wide variety of people who have taken the challenge and the large amount of money raised in a very short time are “nothing short of amazing.”

“It really feel like it would be a wasted opportunity if we (the Rasmussen family) don’t say something,” he said.

Rasmussen said having members of the family dump cold water over themselves at Stuhr Museum was a fun event. He got to hold his 5-month-old grandson while other family members got doused with cold water. He noted that one thing that made the event even more fun is that the wagon that his great-grandparents used to come to Nebraska and to help them stake out a homestead was in the background of the video for the Rasmussen Family Ice Bucket Challenge.

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