NEW YORK - The so-called “Ice Bucket Challenge” is continuing to sweep the nation, and one of the founders of the awareness campaign for ALS is from Westchester.
Pat Quinn, of Yonkers, appeared on "Good Morning America" Friday, where he was recognized for sparking the campaign that has the whole nation getting soaking wet.
Quinn became an ambassador for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease, shortly after being diagnosed with the devastating neurological disease last year. It is estimated that as many as 30,000 people in the U.S. have ALS.
Quinn says he got the idea for the challenge from a friend in the ALS community in Boston. Then, he had his friends start posting challenge videos online. Everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Justin Timberlake to the entire New York Jets team have gotten in on the action.
The goal of the challenge, he says, is to raise money, build support, and hopefully find a cure for the disease. He says the only way to do that is to get people learning about ALS and then get them to start taking some action.
"The message of the bucket challenge is awareness. If it creates more awareness, we are doing that right there," said Quinn.
Neurologist Bernard Jordan, assistant medical director of the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital in White Plains, says early symptoms of ALS include muscle weakness and stiffness, which lead to paralysis. The disease can progress quickly and eventually affect vital functions such as speech, swallowing and later breathing.
Life expectancy for an ALS patient is between two and five years. Currently there are treatments for ALS that can slow down progression of the disease, but there is no cure.
Dr. Jordan says he is hopeful that all the national attention the disease is receiving right now might lead to positive breakthroughs in the future.