ALS Awareness Spurred by the Ice Bucket Challenge Phenomenon

You have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge by now -- our own Kiii Sports Anchor Chris Thomasson was the first member of our local media to accept it. He got dunked, and made his donation to the ALS Association.

The challenge is bringing a lot of attention to ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease; so much so in fact that donations to the ALS Association have gone up by 1,000-percent.

Our social media accounts have been flooded with videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge, but it's more serious than a fad video -- Kiii News Reporter Sarah Acosta spoke with one local family who witnessed the disease take the life of a loved one.

Laura Benavides had been working to raise money and awareness for ALS research long before the Ice Bucket Challenge swept the internet. She lost her sister, Debra, to the disease back in 2010. She was 35 years old when she was diagnosed, and died at 41.

D'Anna Perry, an administrator for Christus Spohn Hospice, said ALS is not a genetic disease, and it can affect any adult at any time. She said that in the last stages of ALS, most patients need feeding tubes or they stop breathing. They can't even lift their fingers to motion for what they need or want.

Benavides said her family became accustomed to doing everything for her sister. She thinks the Ice Bucket phenomenon is great because it has promoted so much awareness and funding for the disease, but she urges people to take a step back and understand the big picture.

"I feel that a lot of people are just taking it out of context and just doing it for fun," Benavides said. "Don't just do the Ice Bucket Challenge and not know what you're doing, you know. Make yourself aware."

That's exactly was Kiii News Anchor Katia Uriarte and Reporter Sarah Acosta did on Tuesday. They were both nominated by a handful of people to take the challenge, and they accepted -- but they accepted the real challenge, to donate.

On their behalf, Kiii-TV is donating $100 for each of them, and they are personally making donations as well.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a great way to raise awareness, but ice melts and money doesn't. Go to to make a donation.


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