Rep. Joe Garcia accepts “ice bucket challenge” for ALS awareness

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U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia took up the “ice bucket challenge” issued by fellow Florida lawmaker Rep. Patrick Murphy, in an effort to raise awareness for ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

According to the ALS Association, the challenge is part of a viral campaign that has everyone from Ethel Kennedy to Justin Timberlake pouring a bucket of ice water over his or her head, while challenging others do the same or make a donation to fight ALS within twenty-four hours.

The goal is to promote awareness – and donations — for research into the progressive neurodegenerative syndrome ALS, which causes gradual deterioration of the nervous system.

The ice bucket challenge began in Massachusetts with Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player diagnosed with the disease in 2012.

Lou Gehrig’s Disease typically strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70, and currently affects as many as 30,000 Americans. There is a 100 percent mortality rate and no known cure. At this time, only one drug is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat ALS, and it only extends survival by two to three months.

Challenged by Murphy and his former intern and Harvard Business School student, Nassar Mufdi Ruiz, Garcia — assisted by his daughter, Gabriela — took on the challenge to support the ALS Association’s work to find a cure and improve the lives of the individuals and families impacted by ALS.

Garcia poured a bucket of ice water over his head, then challenged Key West Mayor, Craig Cates; Florida State Sen. Dwight Bullard; and his brother, Mo Garcia to do the same.

“I was honored to accept this challenge in the name of the thousands of people who suffer from this debilitating disease,” he said afterwards.

Garcia co-sponsored H.R. 3116 – the MODDERN CURES ACT to promote the development of meaningful treatments for patients. The bill would incentivize companies to develop drugs and tests to treat and identify diseases such as ALS. The bill would also create a council for studying diagnostics and initiate a study on the effects of intellectual property law on the development of tests and therapies.

Between July 29 and August 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing 70,000 new donors and $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million raised during the same period last year. The money goes to support ongoing research for treatments and a cure for Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

A video of Garcia taking the ice bucket challenge is available on YouTube.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.