Out on the playground in nearly triple-digit temperatures, Casey Elementary School Principal George Bennett and district school board member Edgar Montes, didn’t mind a getting a little wet, even with buckets of freezing cold ice water — seven of them.
In keeping promises, the two partnered up last
week in front of Casey students and teachers to honorably make good on their pledge to take on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
The sight of seeing buckets of ice water –four poured over Bennett and three for Montes — continuously douse the two, sent the crowd wild with cheers.
“I couldn’t even take a breath in at one point,” said Bennett, describing the experience as shocking to the system.
ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease that results in the degeneration of nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord resulting in paralysis.
As part of Casey’s campaign to raise awareness, the students were given a lesson on ALS to better understand that the ice bucket challenge is more than something that has gone viral.
“This hopefully shows them that it’s not just something fun on the internet, but about something with a real life cause,” Montes said.
“One bucket or four, the feeling it sends is nothing
compared to what those with the disease go through, but the idea behind and our participation, the campaign we had here, is helping show the students how they can help give back.”
And that was the message that second grade teacher Yadira Vara hoped to spread in launching the donation campaign on campus.
It’s an effort to spread the message that “kindness is contagious,” she said.
“It’s something I teach my class,” said Vara, who was also Bennett’s challenger.
The message spread quickly on the Casey campus.
Students were bringing in every bit of change, from pennies to giving up their change from lunch, she added. Teachers also joined in on the effort by pledging to match donations. Each $100 raised, equaled one bucket of ice water for the challengers.
“You would not believe it. They exceeded expectations more than I could have ever imagined,” Vara said.
As a whole, Casey Elementary raised more than $700, and the hope is that the message continues to pick up at dozens of other Rialto schools.
Donations to the ALS Association have skyrocketed in 2014–mainly this summer–because of the awareness the Ice bucket challenge has raised.
As of August 29, the Association has received $100.9 million in donations compared to $2.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 29), according to the associations website.
“(The schools) don’t have to participate like we did, but the hope is to get them involved in giving back, that’s what counts,” Vara said.
And the school challenge prompted by Casey is already making way.
Casey Elementary School has challenged Frisbie Middle School Principal Akinlana Osonduagwuike in the ice bucket challenge.
Gladly accepting, Osonduagwuike plans to make good on the pledge Friday afternoon.
“It would be great to have this be a district-wide challenge,” Vara said. “But again, it’s the lesson of giving back that matters.”
Yazmin Alvarez is a reporter with Inland Empire Community Newspapers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.