NU staff gets in on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge |

NU staff gets in on ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Nevada Union High School staff on Friday participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral movement that has in recent weeks attempted to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, which can cause death.

The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, then posting that video to social media, and nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness. People challenged can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

NU Principal Dan Frisella, Assistant Principal Kelly Rhoden, Athletic Director Jeff Dellis, and teacher Angie Marino all accepted the challenge after being called out by a myriad of different students and faculty members. The four staff members gathered at the school’s outdoor amphitheater area during lunch Friday to get doused with buckets of ice cold water in front of an anticipatory crowd of students and staff.

“I can’t say no to that,” Frisella said. “It’s fun and it’s for a good cause. Getting called out definitely called my attention back to the disease and I’m happy to have a reason to contribute to that cause. If me doing this is going to help add to that foundation, and add to their research and help some people out then I’m all for it.”

Dellis, who was called out by a teacher and two students who had done the challenge, said he was honored to accept the challenge after seeing it on Facebook in support for a wonderful cause.

“I think we have an obligation as staff now that we’ve closed the campus to offer some entertaining alternatives,” Dellis said. “And so teachers and principals getting ice dumped on them, What more fun could it possibly be? In regards to ALS it’s obviously something that’s been around for a long time and it’s tragic that they’re having to go to these kinds of ends to raise research money, so whatever it takes.”

According to Frisella, the four staff members will donate up to $100 total, to an ALS charity of their choice.

The viral sensation, which has used the hash tag #IceBucketChallenge, began several weeks ago and has to date raised more than $50 million, attracting participation from celebrities and tech icons like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Katy Perry and former United States President George W. Bush. Critics of the challenge, though, question whether or not it really brings awareness to ALS, or is just another online trend.

NU sophomore Nick Botehlo said that he has friends that have accepted the challenge and posted it on the Internet, and says it seems to be something that people enjoy doing.

“I actually don’t know much about ALS,” Botehlo said. “But from the videos that I’ve seen they’re all just kind of like ‘OK I’m doing the bucket challenge,’ and then they don’t really say anything else. But it kind of gets people interested I think, and then people go out and try to figure out what it is on their own.”

Josh Colen, an NU junior, challenged Frisella to the challenge on Friday because he wanted to see school staff get involved with the cause, while having fun.

“It’s Lou Gehrig’s disease, my very first wrestling coach died two years ago from it, so I think it’s a great cause,” Colen said. “I think (Frisella) has a lot of heart and he wants to get this out to everybody.”

NU junior Shaniya Mueller, though, says she has seen people doing the challenge online, but she doesn’t think it is really bringing awareness to ALS.

“They just see buckets of ice dumped on people and then they think they’re just going to challenge other people, but they don’t know what it’s for, they know the name of it but they don’t know what the cause is, or the charity or anything like that,” Mueller said. “They just know it’s the ice bucket challenge, and that’s it.”

Mueller added that she wants people accepting the challenge to “At least like say what it’s for, and what it is, because I don’t know what ALS is. I just know that people are dumping ice on themselves for whatever reason.”

While the challenge has garnered a lot of money for the research and study of ALS, annual funding for the disease has recently seen a dip. The National Institutes of Health was recently forced to slash an estimated $1.55 billion from its programs, which include the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke whose 2013 budget was $1.53 billion, a $92 million decrease from the year before.

ALS-specific research funding went from $44 million to $39 million, statistics usually not mentioned in ice bucket challenge videos.

NU senior Reilly Divecchio, though, says that some of the people she has seen on Facebook describe what ALS is, and how people can help contribute to its research, as opposed to just dumping ice on their heads.

“It was good how they were raising awareness for ALS,” Divecchio said. “It’s a big challenge to dump freezing cold water on your head, and I think people are paying more attention to ALS because of the challenge.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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