Washington County officials on opposite coasts joined the ranks of public figures taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this week, adding fuel to a sensation that is gaining strength by the minute. Two Oregon and four Pennsylvania mayors stepped up to the plate to raise awareness and money for research on the devastating disease after being called out by family, community members and other government leaders. The fundraising campaign is hands-down the most successful moneymaker the research organization has ever conducted, bringing in record dollar amounts and new contributors.
In Washington County, Beaverton, Oregon mayor Denny Doyle accepted his daughter’s nomination to participate in the viral challenge sweeping the country coast to coast via social media. City employees gathered Aug. 20 at Round South Plaza near City Hall’s new offices to witness his personal assistant Joyce Barnard, and Beaverton spokesperson Bill LaMarche douse him with a trash can full of ice-cold water. In return, he challenged Senator Jeff Merkley, House Representative Suzanne Bonamici and other Washington County mayors in Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, Banks, North Plains, Durham, Gaston, Sherwood, King City, Tualatin and Tigard, promising to haunt those who decline his challenge. Tigard mayor John Cook did not shy away from the dare and posted his ice bath the following day, while on vacation, throwing down the gauntlet for the rest of the county’s officials as well as Merkley and Bonamici to grab a bucket and follow suit.
Both Doyle’s and Cook’s videos mention that they are also making monetary donations to the ALS Association. The Oregon mayors join the ranks of Dave Ramsey, popular finance guru with the Lampo group and creator of Financial Peace University, former President George Bush, actor Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame and other celebrities in acknowledging the true purpose of the campaign by writing a check once the fun and games are over.
On Friday, opposite coast Washington County, Pennsylvania officials got into the game when Mayors Brenda Davis, Mike Gomber, Dave Rome and Jim Steubnbordt took the plunge at the hands of their respective town’s police chiefs. The chiefs took it on themselves to even out the ice load in each bucket due to the varying bucket sizes provided by each mayor, just to keep the challenge fair. The four officials had been called out by so many area residents and family members that they decided to come together to make an event out of their acceptance. They challenged Mayor Bill Peduto and all Allegheny County mayors to follow their example within 24 hours.
The twin Washington counties’ participation in the official ALS fundraising campaign is just another link in the chain of a viral phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down its coast to coast spread yet. As a result of the national attention the ice bucket challenge has received from these county officials and thousands of other participants, the non-profit research organization has raised a total of $62.5 million as of Aug. 23 and added 1.2 million new donors to their ranks hailing from opposite coasts and everywhere in between. The advocacy group asks anyone who takes the challenge to post their videos and advertise them on social media using the hashtags #strikeoutals, #icebucketchallenge and #alsicebucketchallenge to help raise public awareness of the disease and encourage monetary donations which can speed discovery of a treatment and a cure for patients from Washington to Pennsylvania.
by Tamara Christine Van Hooser