Ice bucket challenge benefits man with ALS

Published on Sunday, 24 August 2014 23:27 - Written by FAITH HARPER fharper@tylerpaper.com

About 300 people stood on hot asphalt on a Sunday afternoon, poised to douse themselves in cold to support one family’s struggle with ALS.

On the count of three, they raised buckets in unison.

A loud crash followed as water and ice hit the pavement, sending the liquid flowing downhill to the street.

The Whitehouse community accepted a communitywide ice bucket challenge to support David Baskins, a local businessman and father, who has been fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, since 2010.

The Allen family was among the hundreds scooping ice and pouring water in the parking lot of Whitehouse CrossFit, 427 Texas Highway 110 North.

Jack Allen, a retired Shreveport, Louisiana, firefighter, said he was doing the challenge to honor two people: Baskin and Michael Waits, Allen’s friend and former coworker.

“This is a distance deal for (Waits) too for me,” Allen said. “We’ve known David for a long time. Our boys played football together. … I coached his son, and David was always supportive of everything we did. I’m real glad to see a turnout like this for him.”

Allen’s wife Renee said the Baskin family is well respected within the community.

“It’s amazing what a community will do,” she said. The whole family is amazing. … They are great family altogether.”

David’s wife Kerri Baskin gave the crowd an update on David’s progress. She said he is now on a ventilator and has not left the house in three months because the progressive disease is now affecting his core and the muscles in his eyes.

“He wanted me to tell you how much he appreciates this today,” Mrs. Baskin said with a crack in her emotion-filled voice. “Words cannot express how grateful we are for all of you today,”

She said the simple idea of challenging each other to dump ice over their heads has raised more than $62.5 million for research and brought awareness to a largely silent community. She said last year $2.4 million was raised during the same time period, from July 29 through Aug 23.

“This challenge is to take notice of a silent community that needed help,” Mrs. Baskin said. “They’re silent because most ALS patients have lost their voice. ... (The disease affects) their throat muscles and they are physically not able to speak and fight against this disease and stand up to try to find answers to this problem.”

Mrs. Baskin said the disease affects how signals are carried through the body, blocking the brain from telling the body to move. Muscles atrophy and eventually patients become prisoners in their own skin.

“The kicker is … they feel everything,” she said. “They feel every pain, every itch, every twitch.”