You’ve Heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge, But What Do You Know About ALS?

Aug 25

While most Americans saw or even participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in summer 2014, they may not be familiar with the disease that inspired it. Or they may know it as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the great New York Yankees first baseman who died from it in 1941.

Decades before Cal Ripken Jr., Gehrig was Major League Baseball’s original iron man. Despite broken bones, low back pain and other ailments, he played a record 2,130 consecutive games, earning the nickname “Iron Horse.” The streak ended in 1939, when Gehrig uncharacteristically took himself out of a game because of a progressive lack of speed, strength and stamina caused by ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a neurodegenerative disease that affects approximately 30,000 people in the United States each year. “Amyotrophic” derives from Greek and means no muscle nourishment.

This non-hereditary disease causes the nerve cells that run from the brain to the spinal cord to degenerate, sclerose (harden) and die, leaving the brain unable to initiate and control voluntary muscle actions.

Symptoms typically occur in those in their 40s to 70s, starting as stiffness and muscle weakness in arms, hands, legs and the trunk. An ALS sufferer might become abnormally tired, drop things, trip, have slurred speech. Each person follows a different progression that results in the same wasting of muscles and eventual paralysis.

There is only one approved drug that slows the schlerosis, but it does not stop the damage from occurring. Money from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is to be used for clinical trials and funding public awareness and research.

Like Gehrig, Pete Frates played some baseball, serving as captain of the Boston College team. In March 2012, at age 27, he was diagnosed with ALS. It was Frates who inspired the Ice Bucket Challenge, which in summer 2014 became a social media phenomenon.

According to ALS Association, as of Thursday, August 21, 2014 The ALS Association has received $41.8 million in donations compared to $2.1 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 21). These donations have come from existing donors and 739,275 new donors to The Association.

For more information, visit the ALS Association’s website,

Watch Drayer employees accept the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!



  1. Jump up ^ Steel, Emily (August 17, 2014). “‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Has Raised Millions for ALS Association”. The New York Times. Retrieved August 21, 2014.


  3. Retrieved August 21, 2014