Irish American Inspired the
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
By Matthew Skwiat, Contributing Editor
October / November 2014
If you found yourself staring down an ice cold bucket of water ready to be dumped on your head this summer remember, first, that it was for a good cause, and second, that it was Irish-inspired. The ALS ice bucket challenge that has left everyone from politicians and celebrities to school teachers and grandparents soaking wet was created by Pat Quinn, an Irish American from Yonkers who was diagnosed with the deadly disease last year. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a neurodegenerative disorder that attacks the body’s muscle and brain nerves leading to trouble speaking, swallowing, and breathing. The disease usually attacks those 50 or over with an average life span of 3 to 4 years.
Quinn, however, was not going to let that stop him. He, along with his friend from Boston College Pete Frates, decided to raise awareness for this heartbreaking and deadly disease. Quinn who is 31, recently told The Irish Voice, “I wasn’t going to take the diagnosis lying down.” He immediately took action with his contact list and social media. He helped spread word around Iona College in New Rochelle, with Frates tackling the Boston area. Quinn’s Irish connections certainly helped out as Rory Dolan’s Bar and Restaurant in Yonkers was one of the first places to host an ALS fundraiser.
As the bucket challenge continues to dominate the social media world, fundraising for ALS has skyrocketed. As of September 4th, ALS have received $108.4 million in fundraising contributions. This number, while impressive, doesn’t cover the millions more raised around the world to fight the disease. While there is no known cure or any major treatment for ALS, the fundraising efforts can expand awareness about the debilitating disease, and hopefully find a cure.