Saipan joins Ice Bucket Challenge bandwagon

Donations reach $53.3 million worldwide

The “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” which is taking the nation by storm, has lapped onto the shores of Saipan, with dozens of island residents taking part in the challenge. It involves a person pouring buckets of ice water over their head on video, posting the video on social media, then nominating friends and family to do the same, in an effort to raise awareness for ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, according to the ALS Association’s website. The disease, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is when the cells die, which causes voluntary muscle control and movement to die with them.

As of Aug. 22, 2014, the association has received over $50 million in donations. The non-profit organization will use the donations toward providing care services to assist people with ALS and their families, while continuously searching for new treatments and a cure. 

“Patients in the later stages of the disease are totally paralyzed, yet in most cases, their minds remain sharp and alert,” the ALS Association added. 

An average of 15 people are diagnosed with the disease every day; that is more than 5,000 people per year. Currently, ALS is responsible for two deaths for every 100,000 people.

“ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic, or socioeconomic boundaries.  ALS can strike anyone. Every single American is threatened by this disease,” the website explained. 

Saipan participants’ support pours in

The challenge has not only been taken up by teenagers on social media, but also by some of the island’s current government leaders. Mount Carmel School president Galvin Deleon Guerrero was one of the first people who took on the Ice Bucket Challenge. Guerrero nominated several people, including independent lieutenant governor candidate Ray N. Yumul and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan.

Yumul posted a video on Facebook of himself taking the challenge publicly at a gathering on Saturday. After being doused with ice-cold water, he nominated Education Commissioner Dr. Rita A. Sablan and Vice Speaker Francisco S. Dela Cruz, among others.

In a recent post on social media, Delegate Sablan said he wants to take part in the challenge but is barred from doing so because of a “prohibition in the House Members Handbook and in the Ethics Manual on the use of official resources for the promotion or benefit of any private charitable cause.”

He, however, expressed his support. “I wish everyone my best wishes and support for this very successful, commendable cause,” he said.

Teenagers online have been nominating their peers throughout the month, filling their news feeds with support for the ALS Association. 

One resident, Jonathan Taimanao, said the Ice Bucket Challenge is important because it brings a real and pertinent medical issue to the forefront of common dialogue. 

“The best thing about it is that it mixes antics and encouragement for people to use social networks to spread the word. Time will only tell how far this goes, but I think it’s fun,” he said.

Saipan resident Andrea Lazaro said that, although some people who take the challenge are not fully aware of the disease, “they still contribute to raising awareness and raising money for research.”

Beth Ann Nunez told Saipan Tribune that she, along with her husband and three children, all participated in the effort to raise awareness and money for the association.

She said, “I think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has brought much needed awareness to this disease and to those whose lives it has devastated.”

To learn more about the ALS Association and the Ice Bucket Challenge visit

Thomas Manglona II | Correspondent

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