Sunday, December 21, 2014
   
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Challenge tests nerves, wallet

Towards the end of the work day on Thursday, four Gothenburg Discount Pharmacy employees moved to the south side of the building. There, they took a seat in metal chairs under a blazing sun for an ice bath courtesy of their friends at Gothenburg Memorial Hospital.

Voluntarily immersing oneself in frigid water is an act usually performed by athletes looking to stave off soreness but over the past few weeks, thousands of people have taken the plunge as part of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Ice Bucket Challenge.

 

The challenge states that once nominated, participants have 24 hours to dump ice water on their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation.

 

According to the ALS Association, ALS is “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”

Jami Brundage was one of the four employees to leave the pharmacy soaked in cold water even though she and her coworkers aren’t personally affected by ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“It’s (the challenge) on Facebook a lot,” said Brundage.

Anyone on social media likely agrees.

“You have such an easy way to access this kind of stuff and it spreads so quickly,” Brundage said. “I think that definitely helps something like this. It really gets people’s attention.”

The challenge has spread like wild fire. Former presidents, movie stars and professional athletes have all documented and shared their participation on the social media outlet of their choice. Young and old members of the Gothenburg community have embraced the challenge, as can be seen on Facebook.

While the act itself may seem silly, the impact it has on those affected by the debilitating disease is real.

“It’s amazing,” said Jill Hoffmaster of Cozad, whose husband, Darin, was diagnosed in May. “Oh my gosh, every time I get on there it’s just like ‘wow.’ ”

Hoffmaster said there’s not much verbal communication going on at the house but there’s a lot of time spent watching videos of completed challenges.

Even though Darin experiences heightened sensitivity from the disease, he has completed the challenge three times with his wife.

“I’ll do it a thousand times if that’s what it takes,” said Jill.

Since her husband’s diagnosis in May, Hoffmaster has seen her husband lose the ability to speak and eat.

She admits that she didn’t know much about the disease before his diagnosis and she quickly found herself in denial after doctors in Omaha confirmed the condition.

During this tough time, the Hoffmasters have enjoyed watching friends and strangers alike take the challenge. Jill noted the support received from Darin’s former classmates at Cozad High School.

“I think he’s absolutely just dumbfounded from all the support,” she said.

As of Tuesday, the ALS Association has received $88.5 million in donations opposed to $2.6 million during the same time period last year.

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