Video: Chiefs of Police Take Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS
Chief of Police Tim Vasquez and all three assistant chiefs stood freezing in their uniforms at the city park Friday, having called themselves out on the ice bucket challenge for ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
ALS is a muscular disorder that is incurable and largely misdiagnosed. San Angelo Police Officer Cathy DeLaughter, whose mother died of the disease three years ago, described her the effects as having a fully-functional mind with a body that won’t do what you want it to.
The decision to take part in the challenge, Vasquez explained, is twofold, partially inspired by the activity of the challenges in the community and largely motivated by the high number of San Angeloans affected by the disease, both civilian and within the police department.
Five of the police department’s 200 civilian and non-civilian employees have had family members die of the disease, a shockingly high number given the percentage of people the disease is estimated to affect.
“Another thing they don’t understand is we seem to have a lot of people in San Angelo affected by it,” DeLaughter said. “They said it hits one in every 100,000 people, well it seems awful strange to me that there’s been five family members…that have been affected by ALS….out of a department of 200 people counting civilians…”
DeLaughter also noted that the disease seems affect large numbers of people who are ex-military, including her mother, however the connection is not yet understood in the medical world.
Before officers lifted the four buckets of the chief and his assistant chiefs Jeff Fant, Robert Martinez and Kevin Hollway, Vasquez explained that they had called themselves out to raise awareness, adding Police Chief Todd Radford of Lakeway and Chief Stan Stanridge of Abilene to his list. The others participating called out the remaining San Angelo command staff, the entire Criminal Investigations Division and the cadets in the Academy.
Although they have undergone the dousing, several of those who have participated in the challenge have to chosen to also donate to the ALS Association, which is “required” of those who don’t respond to the call-outs to complete the challenge themselves within 24 hours.
“…some people are rather harsh about this ice bucket challenge,” DeLaughter said. “They think it’s a way of getting out of it. Most everybody that’s doing it is donating money also.”
Vasquez, who donated his $100 before completing the challenge, said they will donate the money to the ALS Association most likely this afternoon.
“We’re still raising money,” he said. “I don’t know how much it’s going to be, how much we’re going to raise. I’m still going to contribute my $100 and when I left the office, we were a little over that. We’re probably going to be close to $2-300 by the end of the day.”
San Angelo has a local ALS support group, which helps those affected by the disorder with equipment, keeps them up-to-date on new technologies and teaches people how to live with the disease.
“One great thing about the ALS organization here, the support group, they discuss on how to live, not the dying aspect of it, even though they know that’s what’s happening….they were finding ways to zip a zipper up when your hands don’t work anymore or to hold a fork when you can’t hold a utensil anymore,” DeLaughter said. “They were coming up with ways on how to live, not on how to die.”
Doris Shank, DeLaughter’s mother, had ALS for several years, she said, and was initially diagnosed with COPD. DeLaughter explained that the nearest ALS clinic is in San Antonio, meaning all patients in the area have to be transported for treatment. Equipment needed by patients can be expensive, but the local support group has a closet of things for patients and will help even those without much money get the items they need, she said.
Shank was 72 when she passed away from the disease. The treatment she received in San Angelo, DeLaughter said, was extraordinary. Her daughter is currently completing her schooling to become a nurse, inspired by her grandmother’s battle with the disease.
For more information on ALS or the local support group, visit the ALS Association's website.
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