Council is all wet

Published by James O'Toole on .

The latest not-so-hot news from Grant Street from our colleague Robert Zullo:

It was about what you'd expect from a bucket of ice water at 10 a.m.

"It was cold. but it went well," City Councilman Dan Gilman said after he and his colleague Councilman Corey O'Connor helped each other participate in the "Ice Bucket Challenge," a viral online phenomenon to raise money and awareness for  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig's Disease.

The councilmen dumped the buckets over each others' heads Wednesday morning in the portico at the Grant Street entrance to the City-County Building.  "I would argue that my bucket that was dumped on me had more ice in it, so my water was colder. Corey got off easy," Mr. Gilman said.

Both said they had received numerous challenges on social media as well as from media outlets and intend to donate $100 each to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association's Western Pennsylvania chapter.

Mr. O'Connor claimed that his shorter stature meant he got the worst of the dousing.

"He's taller than I am so more of his bucket went directly on me. I think I missed him a little bit," Mr. O'Connor said. "I challenged the remainder of council, so now they're all on the hook."

The councilmen joined a nationwide phenomenon that has raised staggering sums for the association in a little less than a month.

As of Wednesday, the ALS Association had received $31.5 million in donations since July 29, more than 16 times the total received during the same time frame last year, according to its website

"I think it's pretty amazing that in the age of social media, you can turn a video viral overnight with the right celebrities and the right comedic value," Mr. Gilman said of the campaign.

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Eventually, patients lose the ability to control muscles, often degenerating into paralysis, with death resulting from two to five years of diagnosis.

There is presently no cure and only one federally approved drug that modestly extends life, the association says.

Tim Shaw, a former Penn State linebacker from Livonia, Mich., who played in the NFL for four teams from 2007 to 2013, announced Wednesday in an Ice Bucket Challenge video on the website of the Tennessee Titans, his last team, that he had also been diagnosed with ALS.

"I'm here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease," Mr. Shaw said.

As many as 30,000 people in the United States have ALS at any given time, according to the association.

"I think there are a lot of people who knew very little about ALS who have an increased awareness and have decided to support victims and families," Mr. Gilman said. "This gives new hope for research advancements during their life."

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