A chilly challenge

MARSHALL – People have been known to do crazy things for a good cause, and four Marshall Public School administrators are no different.

Superintendent Scott Monson, business director Bruce Lamprecht and assistant principals Jeff Hansen and Travis Frazee accepted the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Ice Bucket Challenge, a craze that has taken the nation by storm, and allowed a bucket of ice water to be poured over their heads Thursday afternoon at Marshall Middle School.

Those nominated are asked to get soaked or make a donation to fight ALS within 24 hours. Many have chosen to do both.

Before the foursome took the plunge, MMS Principal Mary Kay Thomas noted that the challenge basically originated from MMS paraprofessionals Rebecca Anderson and Mary Bartz, whose husband Paul, a farmer, a cop and an adult farm management teacher, died from the disease.

“As we all know, Mary’s husband Paul passed away three years ago as a result of ALS,” Thomas said. “So it’s here and close to home. It’s a great cause, and it’s nice that everyone is able to take part in this, to raise funds and awareness for the entire nation.”

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. While rare, ALS is 100 percent fatal. Currently, there are approximately 500 Minnesotans and 30,000 Americans living with ALS and only one U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved drug, which typically extends survival by only two or three months.

“It’s for a really good cause, that’s what it boils down to,” Monson said after being soaked. “I’m really glad to do this. I think it’s important that we do whatever we can to support worthy causes. This is one of them.”

As a “reward” for taking the challenge, Monson could nominate up to three people or organizations to do the same. Monson nominated Frazee, Brian Jones and Bruce Remme.

Frazee accepted the challenge and was soaked shortly after Monson.

“I accept your challenge and I’m going to throw out three challenges as well,” Frazee said. “I challenge JoAnn Peterson, Kelly Deutz and school resource officer (Sara) VanLeeuwe to do this.”

Hansen, clad in his black socks and sandals for the occasion, was up next.

“I challenge Chad Anderson, superintendent at Tracy Area Public Schools, Loy Woelber, superintendent at Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Ryan Nielsen, Lake Benton School,” Hansen said. “Giddy up.”

Lamprecht, who was challenged from West Side Principal Jeremy Williams, had the unfortunate luck of going last.

“This is like waiting for the firing squad,” Lamprecht jokingly said. “But let’s get it on.”

Lamprecht chose to nominate city of Marshall employees Bob Byrnes, Ben Martig and Harry Weilage for the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Since July 29, the ALS Association has welcomed more than 70,000 new donors to the cause. Since July 29, $41.8 million has been received in donations compared to the $1.9 million raised during the same time period a year ago.

“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” said Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of the ALS Association in a news release. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton also took the challenge at the Minnesota State Fair on Thursday. He had been nominated by Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad. After taking the challenge, Dayton then nominated U.S. Senator Al Franken.

“With more people aware and more people in the fight against ALS, we are poised to work collaboratively with no only other ALS organizations but also with pharmaceutical companies and academia to expedite new treatments for people impacted by the disease,” Newhouse said.