This month marks five years since the ice bucket challenge helped raise millions of dollars for the fight against amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. Those behind the viral charity campaign gathered at Copley Square Monday to commemorate the anniversary with a soaking celebration.
The ALS Association organized the event that was attended by campaign co-founders Pete Frates and Pat Quinn. Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain, was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease in 2012.
“I go back to the day we started doing the ice bucket challenge in our family backyard,” said his wife, Julie Frates. “I never would have imaged we would be having this day, celebrating the way we are.”
As the social media sensation spread in 2014, more than 17 million people posted videos of them participating in the challenge. It helped raise more than $220 million for ALS charities worldwide.
“It’s just a bucket of ice and water. It’s fun and it’s silly, but it made all the difference in the world for this community,” said Calaneet Balas, president of the ALS Association.
Some of the money raised is being put to use at UMass Medical School, where they are researching new gene discoveries and patient therapies.
“It’s very fast paced. We know way more now than we did 5 to 10 years ago,” said John Landers, a professor of neurology at UMass Medical.
Organizers said the challenge now is to keep the momentum going. There are a number of new tasks they are encouraging people to do, from taking a pie to the face to eating a lemon. They said anything to raise money and awareness brings them closer to a cure.
“It is the tipping point in the fight against this disease,” Nancy Frates said. “To know that no other family at some point in time is nver going to have to deal with this disease again is all that we can ask for.”