TRENTON – The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge took over the pregame ceremonies in Trenton on Wednesday, as players, coaches, and Hall of Famers alike showed their support in battling the fatal disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Yankees legend Reggie Jackson was joined by Thunder outfielder Tyler Austin, infielder Dan Fiorito, and catcher Tyson Blaser in the home dugout as they took the challenge in an effort to “strike out ALS.” Afterwards, Austin noted he was happy to do his part in the nationwide effort to cure one of the deadliest diseases known to man.
“I know how bad it is,” said Austin, who was thankful not to know anyone personally with the disease. “I’m just happy to be able to be a part of it.”
Jackson, who was the honorary chairman of the ALS Association's New York chapter during his playing days, nominated the likes of Hal Steinbrenner, Magic Johnson, Bill Murray, and Steve Ballmer to take the challenge in hopes of continuing to raise awareness of this deadly disease. He was enthusiastic about taking the challenge from the start, and remained in good spirits as two Thunder coaches tipped the bucket from the top of the dugout onto Jackson's head, joking that he couldn't swim in the cold water.
"Certainly whoever thought of this was just fabulous," Jackson said of the Ice Bucket Challenge in an interview Wednesday. "I’m happy to be a small part of it and happy to have been able to help out in a small way and am honored to have been asked."
Also taking the challenge was Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who spoke out against the horrors of ALS and other diseases that have taken the nation by storm over the years.
“The things that are happening to our society because of illnesses such as ALS and Alzheimer’s and cancer, things of that nature, we have to do everything we can to help strike these diseases out,” Franklin said after taking the challenge. “They’re terrible diseases, and we’ve seen a number of family members go through them.”
On Tuesday, Thunder shortstop Ali Castillo took the challenge as well, and told me that he was happy to be able to do his part to raise awareness of the disease. For Castillo, the race to find a cure is personal, as one of his friends suffers from the ALS.
Thanks to the support of the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” the ALS Association has raised over $22.9 million dollars in August, more than twelve times the donations received during the same time period last year.