For the more than 50 participants in the North Surry High School Ice Bucket Challenge, the event was about two things: Building school spirit and helping out a worthy cause.
Spirits were high as the participants, faculty and staff of the high school, gathered in front of the school to douse one another with buckets filled with ice water.
The challenge is designed to raise awareness about and support research into treatment for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a condition that has touched numerous lives at the school.
“My mother passed away from ALS,” said organizer and teacher Jamie Martin. “I brought the idea to the school and they just loved it.”
There is no cure for the disease, a fact Martin said is unconscionable.
“I think that with ALS, the fact that there is no cure brings the community and people together to support the challenge,” she said. “There have been several people in our school, and the larger community who have been affected by the disease.
“It hits home here at North Surry, and this is a way for the staff to come together in support.”
Was she nervous watching the buckets be filled with ice and water?
“Just look at this hair,” she said, noting her coiffed blond locks. “I’m going to get my hair wet. Of course I’m nervous.”
Just for a moment, her jovial smile was replaced by a somber look.
“My mother was in a year-and-a-half decline with ALS,” she said. “It was a horrible, horrible thing to watch. Anything we can do to raise awareness is great, but the real goal is to find a cure.”
As more and more people joined the lineup, Martin said the money was still pouring in, and she had no idea how much the school collected through the challenge.
“I know it’s several hundred dollars,” she said proudly.
For math teacher Karen Harris, the event was more than a way to cool off.
“This is about school spirit,” she said. “Go Greyhounds!”
Harris said she was not nervous at all, rather was looking forward to cooling off in the 90-degree heat.
“It’s gonna be fun,” she said.
As the moment approached, members of the school’s drum line and mascot joined the festivities, working the crowd of onlookers into a frenzy.
And with a countdown, the line of buckets began to be lifted one at a time as each participant doused the person next to them.
There was laughter, squeals of joy and screams as the cold water engulfed one by one.
“I want to challenge East Surry High School, Surry Central High School, the Early College and the central office staff to take the challenge,” Martin said, laughing.
But for one spectator, the moment was emotional.
“I lost my husband Craig to ALS in January,” said Michele Hunter, her eyes welling with tears as she recalled her husband and former Surry County commissioner. “Anything we can do to raise awareness is a wonderful thing. This is just a horrible disease.”
She became even more quiet.
“Thank you so much for doing this,” she said to the participants in nearly a whisper.
Keith Strange can be reached at 336-415-4698 or via Twitter @strangereporter.