Olga Slavik

Olga Slavik

Tractor bucket delivers icy ALS challenge

First came the waterfall, then came the loonies. It was one of the more unusual ice bucket video challenges for ALS anyone has likely seen.

First came the waterfall, then came the loonies.

It was one of the more unusual ice bucket video challenges for ALS anyone has likely seen.

The six participants screamed as a waterfall of ice and water was dumped on their heads from the bucket of a farm tractor operated by Fred Knezevich at the “Funny Farm” in Chimney Valley.

Then they cringed in anticipation with hats on or hands up as $1,000 in toonies came tumbling from the bucket in a second shower.

The event was organized by Funny Farm owner Vona Priest and Eileen Campbell, two people who have been personally impacted by ALS.

Priest, who’s sister in Victoria has ALS, delivered her ice-bucket challenge to the SPCA and her brother-in-law Ben Parsons.

Eileen Campbell, who’s husband Hugh died of ALS, delivered her ice-bucket challenge to Williams Lake mayor and council and to Dale Taylor at the Goat Radio station.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord leading to death.

The organizer of the Williams Lake ALS Walk, Campbell says losing her husband Hugh to ALS was an extremely difficult time for her family.

She says there is no cure and no specific test for ALS. The diagnosis for her husband was by a process of elimination. He was diagnosed in 2008 at age 52 and died at age 54.

Priest says the life expectancy for those diagnosed with ALS is three to five years.

Through tears she explained that her sister, Alicia Priest, in Victoria, who is now in her third year of living with ALS and is unable to speak.

She says they communicate by email every day. She says her brother-in-law Ben Parfait has taken a leave from work to care for her.

“It’s an absolute beast because your mind isn’t affected,” Priest says. “You are basically trapped in a paralyzed body.”

Priest says that while some people are talking negatively about the ALS ice-bucket challenge she says the challenges are going a long way toward raising awareness about ALS and funds for ALS research and providing care and comfort for people suffering with ALS. She says the shock of having ice water dumped on you is symbolic of the shock people feel when they get a diagnosis of ALS.

“This is amazing,” says Priest, of the millions raised by the challenges so far.

Priest plans to donate $1,000 to the B.C. ALS Society for research and another $1,000 to the ALS Guardian Angels who provide 100 per cent of the funding they receive to the care of ALS patients.

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