Ice Bucket Challenge Raises Awareness And Money For ALS

Nationally, ALS Association has raised more than $41 million in last 3 weeks

SAN ANTONIO – You've seen the ice bucket challenge on TV, shared on th internet and many have even taken on the challenge themselves.

But, past the hype, the viral challenge has raised a lot of awarenes about ALS, also known as Lou Gherig's disease, and it's also raised a lot of money.

"I think it's just awesome," said Dr. Carlayne Jackson, professor of Neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. "ALS is a really rare disease and for so long, people really knew nothing about it and this has just dramatically increased awareness of what ALS is."

ALS robs patients of their mobility, their speech and their ability to breathe.

Jackson treats more than 200 ALS patients through a clinic at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio with a team of other doctors and therapists.

Jackson said for years, researchers have tried to find a cure, but just didn't have the funding to back it up.

Now, through this challenge, there is not only money for research, but locally, there will also be money for care.

"Research is critical," said Jackson. "But also very important is the care and management of the patients that are living with the disease today and their care is very expensive and very complicated. The ALS Association helps to fund clinics like ours to help support the families and patients who are dealing with this disease."

With the help of the ice bucket challenge, from Aug. 1-Aug. 21, ALS Texas has raised $281,936. That's up from $55,000 at the same time last year.

In addition to the amount of money being raised, the Texas chapter has also seen a huge rise in donations.

There were more than 2,700 donations made this year compared to just 385 last year.

Nationally, the ALS Association has raised more than $41 million in the last three weeks.

"It's a very expensive disease to have," said Jackson. "A wheelchair may be $30,000, a breathing device may be $5,000 or $6,000 and even with inusrance, a lot of families can't afford the care they need."

Jackson has also taken on the challenge with her team of doctors in honor of all who have suffered from ALS.

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