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Springfield ALS Patient Thankful for Ice Bucket Challenge


The hashtag “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” trending in a major way on Facebook and Twitter worldwide, has brought optimism to an ALS patient in the Ozarks. KSMU’s Alissa Zhu has the story.

That was the sound of 40 pounds of ice and ten pounds of water cascading down Jonathan Nguyen’s body. Nguyen, a junior at MSU, joined thousands of others in participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge that has swept social media by storm.

“Well it’s for a good cause and I’m donating my money towards a good cause and go ahead a dump a bucket of ice water on a hot summer day,” said Nguyen.

ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Patients with ALS lose their ability to walk, talk, and control their bodies. Since late July, the ALS Association reports it has received $22.9 million in donations compared with $1.9 million during the same period last year. The ice bucket challenge has attracted over 400,000 new donors, one of whom was Nguyen.

“Social media, believe it or not, is one of the greatest inventions for spreading in a community like this. With the ALS ice bucket challenge, I’ve noticed that it just came in and exploded all over social media,” Nguyen said.

Phill Hoge is a 69-year-old retired high school teacher living in Springfield. Hoge was diagnosed with ALS in February and he said the ice bucket challenge is raising much needed awareness for the disease.

Credit Rebecca Hoge
Rebecca Hoge and her husband, Phil (middle) with their family.

“I hope the accelerated funding and research can open up avenues to new medications that will stop this disease or make it easier to live with, for me and for many more people who are much worse off than I am,” said Phill.

Hoge’s wife, Becky, said a cure to ALS may still be far in the future but hopes funds from the ice bucket challenge will be able to help the local ALS Association Chapter provide for patients with the disease.

Credit Jonathan Nguyen
Jonathan Nguyen challenges friends to participate in the ALS ice bucket challenge.

“They have a support group that we go to and they assist with caregiving and they have equipment they can loan. They try to provide help for people who don’t have funds for the durable medical equipment and that kind of thing. But they have a nurse that gets in touch with newly diagnosed patients and they’re a huge help and answering questions and getting us started on the right foot with all the challenges we are faced with now,” said Becky Hoge.

Nguyen said he was thinking of former Glendale baseball coach Howard Bell, who died last year from ALS, as he completed the challenge. In turn, Nguyen challenged three of his friends to take part.

A large-scale ice bucket challenge will take place at the “Back to School Blast” Horse show. The show, held on August 23 at the Ozark Empire Fair, was co-founded by Julie Williams and Debi Woodward, who is now living with ALS. Donations from this ice bucket challenge will go toward the ALS Association.