Dodgers participate in Ice Bucket Challenge
Puig, Hernandez step up as Los Angeles passes buck to Houston
LOS ANGELES -- There will always be a connection between baseball and ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease, because the disease took the life of one of the sport's icons.
So it's natural then, that Major League Baseball has joined the efforts of the ALS Association and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for the second straight year. Friday, the Red Sox restarted the movement that went viral a year ago, and they challenged the Dodgers to follow suit. So Yasiel Puig and Enrique Hernandez stepped up Saturday and were doused in ice.
"It is a completely organic event supported by the ALS community, initiated by people with ALS," said Fred Fisher, president and CEO of the ALS Association and a lifetime Dodgers fan. "August is when the world saw an unprecedented social media, mass media phenomenon like we've never seen before."
The Dodgers showed a video presentation before the game on Saturday, highlighting this year's hashtag "#EveryAugustUntilACure."
"The presentation was great. Really moving," said Paul Zuccaro, who was diagnosed with ALS in August 2012.
Last year, the viral movement raised $220 million worldwide. The movement shed light on the incurable disease and the ALS Association funded more than 60 new research projects.
"Research is accelerating now. The problem now is there is more good research than there is research to fund it," Fisher said. "So the Ice Bucket Challenge helped launch some initiatives that were ready to go, but lacked funding."
According to Fisher, it takes about $2 billion to fund a drug from start to finish. Funding goes to all parts interconnected system of getting funding, labs to create therapeutic ideas and clinics to test them on patients. So even with how viral the movement went last year, the ALS Association still needs more help to develop a cure. But as the calendar flipped to August, the chance to make a difference came with it.
"We need many, many years of Ice Bucket Challenges to fund a cure," Fisher said. "We're so grateful for Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball stepping in to support the ALS Association. The world came to know about this disease because of Lou Gehrig. So every year, we remember Gehrig. We celebrate his spirit, because it's the same spirit that lives within people [who] have ALS."
The Dodgers challenged the Astros, ace Dallas Keuchel and Houston mayor Annise Parker to continue the movement. The Ice Bucket Challenge is set to pick up again and while it provides precious dollars for research and development, it is also a beacon of hope for those afflicted with the disease.
"Now they know the world is watching," Fisher said. "They know the world is caring and they feel much less alone."