The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that is sweeping the nation, and has netted nearly $100 million in donations, gained 28 additional participants in Aiken on Thursday.
Members of a competitive dance team at Carolina Dance Studio doused each other with buckets of ice water.
To participate in the challenge, a person dumps a bucket of ice water on their head, then challenges several other people to do the same and post a video of the event to social media. Typically, those who do not “complete the challenge” within 24 hours are asked to donate money to an organization researching amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but others douse themselves in water and still donate.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to a patient's death. There is no cure for the disease.
The ALS Association has received nearly $100 million in donations since the viral sensation began in late July, compared to about $2 million at the same point last year, according to the Associated Press.
Christy Williams, owner of Carolina Dance Studio, said she was nominated by someone else, and after taking the challenge, she challenged all 28 dancers on the competitive dance team.
“They're willing to do it. They're excited,” she said.
The challenge was completed Thursday with seven rows of children, each row dumping buckets of ice water on the row in front of it with parents dumping the water on the back row. There were shrieks and yells followed by laughter and toweling off.
The dance academy made a $500 donation to the Pope John Paul II Medical Research Institute. Williams said she's leaving it up to the individual dancers to challenge others.
Several of the dancers and their families have been touched by the debilitating disease, including Bethany Reesor, whose brother-in-law's wife died from the disease about three years ago.
“We watched her health decline rapidly, and it was awful to watch,” Reesor said. “It hits every nerve in their body. There's only two parts in their body that it doesn't hit – the intestines and the heart.”
Reesor's daughters Isabella, Abigail and Olivia participated in the challenge Thursday.
Lisa Escalante, whose daughter Hannah took the challenge, said the husband of a friend of hers has the disease.
“They can't go to the bathroom by themselves, they can't get up by themselves, but they still have their mind,” she said. “It's kind of like being trapped inside your own body.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala From left: Jody Hutto, Avery Page and Alexa Arthur recover from the shock of buckets of ice water being dumped on them. The girls were three of 28 dancers at Carolina Dance Studio to take part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on Thursday.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Daniel Howard reacts after getting a bucket of ice water dumped on him during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which dancers at Carolina Dance Studio participated in on Thursday.×
Staff photo by Teddy Kulmala Alexa Arthur keeps her cool as Tracy Finch dumps a bucket of ice water on her during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which dancers at Carolina Dance Studio participated in on Thursday.×