Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness for ALS - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Ice Bucket Challenge raising awareness for ALS

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KHQ's Stephanie Vigil and Jen Petruso take the Ice Bucket Challenge KHQ's Stephanie Vigil and Jen Petruso take the Ice Bucket Challenge
SPOKANE, Wash. - If you've logged onto Facebook, Instagram or Twitter this week, you've no doubt seen people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. With the blazing hot temperatures we've been having, perhaps you thought it was just a fun way to cool down. Well, it is, but this latest viral movement is aiming at doing something much more important: raising awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. 

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, loss of the use of arms and legs, and difficulty speaking, breathing and swallowing. Spokane's own Steve Gleason, former New Orleans Saint, has ALS and now spends his time raising awareness and money for research to find a cure. 

Gleason Fest is August 23rd in downtown Spokane at Division and Main. There will be live music and the money raised goes towards The Gleason Initiative Foundation, which aims to help provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with leading edge technology, equipment and services, create a global conversation about ALS to ultimately find solutions and an end to the disease and raise public awareness toward ALS by providing and documenting extraordinary life adventures for individuals with muscular diseases or injuries. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge was started by another former athlete, Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. Frates recently posted his own ice bucket challenge video and dared people to try it. The video went viral and extended well past Boston College. 

Here's how it works: 

1.) Post a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice over your head

2.) Nominate others to do the same and keep the cycle going. 

3.) If those you nominate do not complete the challenge, they are asked to donate to ALS research or to the charity of their choice. 

Many people are taking the challenge and donating at the same time. The ALS Association spokeswoman Carrie Munk told NBC her organization has collected $1.35 million from July 29th to August 11th. During the same time period last year, donations totaled $22,000. According to The ALS Association, 50% of the American public doesn't know what the disease is. 

On Wednesday, KHQ's Stephanie Vigil and Jen Petruso took the challenge and in turn challenged Mayor David Condon, Spokane Firefighters and all of the employees of KHQ! We're waiting for those videos!

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