Ice bucket challenge helps local ALS patients

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Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014

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(WRDW) -- Getting dumped with ice-cold water may not sound ideal, but the challenge to do it to spread awareness for the disease ALS is sweeping the nation.

It's even reached us here in our newsroom as Meredith, Jessica, and Tim drenched themselves. What's even more chilling than a bucket of ice-water is the effect this disease has on people who are diagnosed.

“He was strong man. He could pick up I don’t know how many pounds,” Anita Gordon said.

In April 2008, Bob Gordon had numbness in one finger and then he and his wife got news they never thought they would hear. He was diagnosed with ALS.

“Once this disease touches you or anyone you know, you never forget it,” Gordon said.

Anita Gordon watcher her husband of 38 years as this disease took over his body.

“In the third year, a lot of stumbling. A lot of falling. He can only move his eyes. That’s the only movement he has in his body,” Gordon said.

“It usually starts out in one limb and you progressively get weaker and weaker in that limn and it spreads to other parts of the body,” said Dr. Michael Rivner, medical director at GRU ALS clinic.

It’s a disease that affects 150 patients here in Augusta.

“It’s frustrating to deal with a disease that we can’t stop, but just because we can’t stop it doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do,” said Dr. Rivner.

At GRU, they’re doing clinical trials. Dr. Rivner hopes that awareness from the ice bucket challenge will get more people to donate so they can do more research for the disease that has no cure and no known cause.

“I think it’s God’s grace that it’s okay. I’m not at peace with the disease. I hate it. It’s a hideous disease, but I am so grateful that I can take care of my husband,” said Gordon.

Most people with ALS are only expected to live 5 years, but Bob Gordon is beating the odds. He’s in his sixth year with the disease and hasn’t missed out any milestones.

“My daughter got married last March and he rolled her down the aisle in his wheelchair,” Gordon said.

Anita said her husband’s disease has become a part of their lifestyle that they’ve adapted to, but one thing still hasn’t changed.

“He will still smile, and he’s still happy. Nothing changes with this mind or spirit,” Gordon said.

The Gordon family took the challenge themselves and hopes it can help another family and another patient.

“The patients are the heroes,” Gordon said.

The GRU ALS clinic is doing their own ice bucket challenge on Tuesday.

If you don’t want to get dumped with cold water, but still want to contribute you can go to the clinic’s website and make a donation. It’s an expensive disease. One patient with ALS cost $250,000 a year.

The ice bucket challenge isn’t the only thing the clinic is doing. They have their annual walk Sept. 27. They encourage people to go ahead and get teams and sign up. You can do that by clicking here.

You can get more information on ALS and make a donation by clicking here.

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