I laughed so hard that I cried at Thursday night’s Barrington Community Ice Bucket Challenge which was definitely one for the history books! About twenty local leaders accepted the Ice Bucket Challenge followed by dozens more who stepped up to get soaked very publicly at the gazebo right in the center of town. Before the buckets were tipped, each participant nominated up to three more individuals or groups to take part, setting in motion many more challenges to come in the days ahead.
I honestly don’t know what was more fun to photograph, the priceless expressions on familiar faces awash with water or the look of good-humored agony as the ice buckets approached.
Words can not describe how hilarious it was to witness the crowd go wild as the “challenged” got soaked for the cause and I can’t wait to see the video coverage our crew has in the works. Participants included BMO Harris Bank Market President Frank McGovern who didn’t mind his suit and tie getting wet. Why did Frank say yes to the challenge? He chalks it up to “peer pressure”.
“Well you can’t say no when you’re asked in Barrington, especially when it’s helping such a great cause. And most of us have lost somebody to ALS. The father of a close friend of mine passed away from ALS so it’s a really important thing to raise funds for.”
Seconds after Frank got the bucket, it was Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Greg Brebach’s turn. He got iced after nominating Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital President Karen Lambert to follow in his footsteps.
“This event is really exciting and I’m happy to be a part of it! Being a physician I know ALS is a horrible disease and anything I can do personally and anything we can do as a community is excellent because one day we’re going to find a cure and if we can all help accelerate that with ice buckets, I’m all for it!”
But the best of the whole community challenge is that this gathering planned in just days (thanks to Bob Lee and Phillips Mens Wear) hit home in a very personal way for one family facing ALS here in Barrington. Watch this photo gallery in sequence to see all of these great people get doused on behalf of North Barrington father-of-two, Paul Launer.
Paul has ALS and he’s the man behind a team of supporters planning to walk in his name at the Les Turner ALS Walk for Life on Sunday, September 21st. They’re working hard to raise $50,000 for the upcoming walk and, if they do, the Foglia Family Foundation will match that, bringing the total raised by our Barrington team to a record-breaking $100,000 for this year’s walk.
To see how close they’re coming to reaching that goal or to make a donation, CLICK HERE.
There’s no doubt the buckets and ice water were a hit, but the true highlight of Thursday’s challenge was that Paul and his family were there to bear witness to the brouhaha. And organizers made a point of saving the best bucket for last. With his daughters by his side, Paul Launer accepted the challenge with a bucket over his head filled with money raised locally to fight his disease.
Using an eye motion-sensored typing device attached to his chair, Paul shared a message of thanks with the crowd saying, “I am absolutely thrilled this challenge has become a viral phenomenon. The response is beyond any wishes, prayers, hopes or dreams.”
Community Church of Barrington Reverend Zina Jacque who was there to speak to the crowd said it best when she told me this.
“There is nothing more important than a community coming together to support its own. But when you support your own and go beyond that to change the world, what a privilege and what an honor. I know Barrington’s Ice Bucket Challenge will make a difference because I’ve seen the checks in that bucket. And I think, when you start calling people by name and challenging them, then it speaks to the heart and it’s not amorphous. It’s personal. This fight is personal. And it’s why knowing Paul Launer is so important.”
I have NEVER had so much fun covering a story in our community or felt so inspired to take part after seeing the outpouring of support and the laughter surrounding the Launer family at Barrington’s gazebo last night. And I know how much their ALS Walk for Life team could use our help. To borrow the catch phrase of the night, all you have to do is “Do it and Donate” and CLICK HERE to join in Barrington’s Fight Against ALS.