Harford individuals, groups take Ice Bucket Challenge

Unless you live in a cave, just about everyone has heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Facebook and other Internet sites are covered with videos of people, including hundreds from Harford County, dumping buckets of ice-cold water over themselves.

Whether it be as an individual or a group, Harford is jumping on the bandwagon and helping raise money and awareness for the ALS Association, the only national non-profit organization fighting Lou Gehrig's Disease on every front, according to its website, http://www.alsa.org.

The challenge: Douse yourself with a bucket of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominate others to do the same. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice. Some do both.

As of Monday, the ALS Association had received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to Aug. 18); These donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 new donors to the association, according to its website.

Harford County's Association of Realtors took on the Ice Bucket Challenge Friday afternoon.

Eight members of the association dumped the ice-water-filled buckets on their heads in the parking lot by their Bel Air South headquarters, off Old Emmorton Road.

Anne Smoley, president of the association, challenged Sharon McKenna, president of Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors, to be the next to try the trend.

"This is a disease that actually disproportionately affects athletes and veterans," Smoley said in her introduction to the challenge.

Nicole Upton, of Fallston, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker's Harford County Regional Office in Bel Air South, said her father died of the "absolutely devastating" disease in March 2013.

Upton noted the disease is difficult to diagnose and, although her father suffered from it for about three years, he probably had ALS for longer than that.

Upton, who did a walk for ALS recently, said the Ice Bucket Challenge and growing awareness of the disease are "very exciting."

"I have noticed the awareness is becoming more apparent these days," she said, citing O.J. Brigance, the former Ravens player and current team front office advisor, who has ALS and started a foundation, along with his wife Chanda, to raise public awareness of the disease and funds to fight it.

"I think sometimes it takes, unfortunately, a celebrity to bring that awareness," Upton said.

Veronica Rolocut, government affairs director for the Harford Association of Realtors, said the group has raised several hundred dollars for ALS research so far.

In addition to some challenges that have already been held in Harford, at least two more are planned this week.

On Tuesday, the staff at Golden Corral in Aberdeen will be answering the challenge as a group.

At least 20 staff members, including Brenda Carmosino, the owner's wife, have said they will be in front of the restaurant at 706 S. Philadelphia Blvd. around 2:30 p.m., according to assistant general manager Jim Baxendell.

He intends to challenge other restaurants in Aberdeen.

"The hope is to get everyone out there doing it in town," Baxendell said.

He said employees are asked to donate $10 and the restaurant itself will likely donate at least $100.

Sunday morning, members of Whiteford Volunteer Fire Company intend to answer the challenge from one of their members.

As many members as respond to the challenge from Jim Hutchins will line up between 11 a.m. and noon in front of Whiteford's fire station on Pylesville Road. Another member, with a fire hose, will climb the company's ladder truck and spray each person with water.

Hutchins and his wife, Tammy, who own Back Yard Boys Sheds, was nominated for the challenge and he responded by nominating the entire Whiteford fire company.

"He thought it would be cool to nominate the whole fire department, because no one knew of as whole department had yet been nominated," Tammy Hutchins said Monday. "It's so they can all get involved instead of one at a time."

Fifty people have been invited to be doused; Hutchins said she's unsure how many will accept.

Regardless of how many people show up, she said they also plan to make a donation to ALS.

Nine members of the Harford County Sheriff's Office, including Sheriff Jesse Bane, poured buckets of ice water on themselves last week, though Bane's was a small plastic cup full of water, according to the Sheriff's Office's Facebook page.

The Sheriff's Office challenged Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments, the Maryland State Police Bel Air Barrack and Mike Hughes at Anne Arundel Police Department. Bane issued his own challenges, including to Lt. Sean Jackson, the Bel Air Barrack commander.

"See if you are as brave as I am or I have to bring you here under duress to meet this challenge," Bane says to Jackson in the video challenge posted on the Sheriff's Office Facebook page.

A monetary donation was also to be made, according to the video.

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