You’ve probably seen the videos on Facebook and Youtube. . .people taking the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS research. And now, ALS researchers and other faculty members at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute in Roanoke helped raise awareness of the deadly disease.
Nicholas Maxwell of Roanoke is a VTCRI student studying ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. He and about 20 others stood in front of the building preparing to dump ice water over their heads.
“It is very much of a culture statement, kind of fad to do it but the cause is very important. ALS affects quite a few people every year, about 30,000. And it’s a horrible disease that makes life very difficult for them. The more awareness that we can get, the more money we can raise for the ALS Foundation, hopefully the faster we can find a remedy for this awful disease.”
Some in this group are students, while others, such as Greg Valdez, are faculty members. His laboratory is looking into why gene mutations are at the heart of ALS and other neurological diseases.
“We want to know why these mutations, although they’re present in an individual from the moment of conception; how come those mutations begin to affect in a very, very dramatic way the nervous system and the musculature of those individuals when they’re older.”
The challenge came from the Research Institute’s Executive Director, Michael Friedlander, who posted his dunking online. In turn, Valdez challenged several others , including new Virginia Tech President Timothy Sands, to donate money to the ALS Foundation or take the plunge. And then. . .
Afterward, Maxwell wiped his long, wet hair from his eyes.
“Wasn’t that bad. A little chilly but I don’t think I got enough water. I think I could have used three or more buckets.”