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Veterans Home staffer takes the Ice Bucket Challenge



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Getting drenched in icy water for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at New Hampshire Veterans' Home last week were (left to right) Facilities Engineer Jon Bossey, Mechanic Foreman Jason Treffey, Housekeeping Supervisor Linda Laduke, Commandant Margaret LaBrecque, IT Support Technician Kris Hillson and stock clerk Sean Clark who brought the challenge to the NHVH staff. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
August 19, 2014
TILTON — The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral on social media this summer, so when Sean Clark, a stock clerk at New Hampshire Veterans' Home, received the challenge, he decided to ramp things up to include his co-workers, many of whom came out in support of the cause.

The Ice Bucket Challenge calls on people to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads and video tape it for social media sites. In doing so, they then challenge three of their friends to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to ALS research. Most do both the ice bucket and also make a donation.

Since the challenge hit the Internet this summer, donations to ALS have spiked considerably, raising more than $13 million already for the foundation and their teams of scientists who are searching for a cure.

"When my friend Kyle called me out on Facebook, I decided to call on my friends from work to get some donations together and join me. It happened fast — we had only 24 hours to do it," Clark said.

In all, more than a dozen employees of NHVH stepped up to the plate last Friday afternoon, making donations as well as allowing buckets of icy water to be dumped over their heads to draw attention to ALS.

Among those were IT Support Technician Kris Hillson, Housekeeping Supervisor Linda LaDuke, Mechanic Foreman Jason Trefrey, Facilities Engineer Jon Bossey, members of their departments, and Commandant Margaret "Peggy" LaBrecque.

LaBrecque added to the challenge by decreeing that whoever raised the most money for ALS would get to dump the bucket over her head.

While Hillson raised the most in individual donations from employees, the honor of soaking the commandant was passed to Gilford residents Paula Bertholdt and her husband Bill, who currently resides at NHVH. Before the challenge took place, the couple had matched Hillson's $100 donation.

"We wanted to do something and we like to support people helping people, as they do here each and every day. My husband's in a wonderful place right now so we pitched in," said Paula.

Bill, who is Vice President of the Residents Council, said he chipped in $60 and his wife added another $40 as her part of their joint contribution.

"My wife and I kicked in for the pleasure of soaking the Commandant. She's quite a lady," he said with a smile.

Before the Bertholdts doused her though, LaBrecque got to challenge others to do the same for ALS.

"We call out Golden Crest Nursing Home, the Merrimack County Nursing Home and the Tilton and Northfield fire and police departments," she declared.

With residents gathered in the central courtyard to watch, a count down was held and then icy torrents of water took the breath away from all who volunteered for the challenge.

ALS was first discovered in 1869 by a French scientist, but it was not until 1939, when famed baseball player Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with the disease, that it became known both nationally and internationally.

Since that time other famous people, such as Hall of Fame pitcher Jim "Catfish" Hunter, Sen. Jacob Javits, actor David Niven and Sesame Street creator Jon Stone have also been stricken by the disease.

Known as Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or, more commonly, Lou Gehrig's Disease, ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In later stages of the disease it causes total paralysis and eventually death.

Labrecque said none of the current residents at NHVH have been diagnosed with ALS, but finding a cure for the dreaded disease is still important to all in the medical field and society as a whole.

The Bertholdts weren't done with their contributions for the day though. As Alice Brown, assistant to the commandant, totaled up the donations, she announced they were just shy of $500. The couple then reached deeper in their pockets and came up with an additional donation to help Clark and his fellow employees reach that goal.

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