Surrey man says ALS is ‘just like putting me in a big ice cube’

NEWTON — A neighbourhood came out to support one of their own who suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) by hosting an ice bucket challenge of its own.

Jack Evans, 78, has been suffering from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, for a little over two-and-a-half years, and when the ice bucket challenge went viral, his son and daughter – John and Colleen – created an event to raise money and awareness.

On Wednesday (Aug. 20), the Evans family hosted an ice-bucket challenge at Sullivan Park with more than 30 of their closest friends, families and neighbours coming to participate and donate to the cause.

“A lot of people have been saying that it’s just showmanship being couched as philanthropist activities, and a lot of people are naysaying the whole thing that it’s just a bunch of hype and it doesn’t mean anything,” Colleen said.

“But I actually see that differently because there hasn’t really been a whole lot of awareness about ALS. A lot of people have no idea what it actually really means.

“We’ve encountered an awful lot of doctors in this whole experience with my dad, and most of them have never had an ALS patient before. They don’t know a whole lot about it. His nurses are unfamiliar with what his symptoms would be like,” she added.

ALS is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease progressively degenerates motor neurons, which deteriorates the spinal cord and muscles through the body.

As the motor neurons fail, the brain is unable to control muscle function, which can lead to patients eventually coming paralyzed.

Jack said that pouring a bucket of ice water over your head gives people an idea of what people suffering from ALS go through on a regular basis.

“I’m on no medication right now,” the 78-year-old said. “This disease bumps your nervous senses up 300 per cent. It’s just like putting me in a big ice cube.”

Before retiring, Jack was a lineman for BC Hydro. His son, John, said it was hard to see the transformation his father has gone through.

“He went from a very strong man to a frail individual. It’s hard to see,” said John.

“I’m here for all of the patients with ALS. It’s not just my dad. There are a lot of other people out there that need the support, too,” he added.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started in early August and first began with people taking the option to donate money toward the ALS Association or to take a video of them dumping a bucket of ice water on themselves before nominating three people to partake in the challenge.

As of Aug. 22, the campaign has raised more than $53 million.

After a 24-hour period, the Evans raised more than $1,200. A local company, Champions in Sports, said they would match the donations made toward the Evans’ event.

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