Ice Bucket Challenge triples Team Gleason donations

© Patient Emma Romsky dumps water on Children's Hospital CEO Mary Perrin (Source: Children's Hospital)
© Patient Emma Romsky dumps water on Children's Hospital CEO Mary Perrin (Source: Children's Hospital)

Who knew that pouring ice over your head could warm so many hearts?

"It's phenomenal what's going on right now," said Paul Varisco, Steve Gleason's father-in-law and executive director of Team Gleason.

Across the country, stars like Drew Brees put down the ball to jump in a bucket (along with his son), politicians like Governor Bobby Jindal loosened their ties, and even those battling their own illnesses completed the ice bucket challenge in the name of research for a disease with no treatment, and no cure.

Patient Emma Romsky dumped water over Children's Hospital CEO Mary Perrin, and with the help of the other doctors and nurses, raised $5,000 in just one day.

Friday, the ALS Association said nationally it has received $9.5 million in donations over the past few weeks. During the same time period last year, they raised $1.6 million.

Locally, Varisco said the challenge has provided more awareness than money could buy.

"Team Gleason money, we've probably tripled what we did this time last year," said Varisco.

Varisco said Peter Frates, the ALS patient who kicked off the Ice Bucket Challenge in Boston, is a friend of Gleason's, and had joined him in New Orleans for Voodoo Fest last year.

It's one reason why when Gleason was challenged, he took it to a new level, as you can see with the aptly placed fleur de lis graphic.

"He accepted it, and of course Steve likes to always do things out of the box. He did it naked. Not completely naked, but close," said Varisco.

Anything, Varisco said, to keep the challenge going and the awareness growing.

"Tremendously excited about people now knowing more about ALS because it's so under funded. We call it the orphan disease. Not many people know about it," said Varisco.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu said on behalf of Steve Gleason and Father Fitzgerald from Jesuit High School, every Who Dat should complete the challenge together in two weeks, just a few hours before the Saints host the Baltimore Ravens.

"That's what I'm talking about," Landrieu laughed after getting ice water dumped on him in this video. "So, now what I'm doing is I'm giving a shoutout to the entire Who Dat nation to join me here on August 28. We are going to break the world record right here at 5:30 and everybody remember donate to so we can fight ALS."

It's a call to continue spreading awareness even if it takes a brain freeze to keep ALS at the forefront of our minds and the top of our social feeds.

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