WALLINGFORD — Fifty-seven members of Sheehan High School’s marching band lined up in the middle of the turf field Friday afternoon, holding buckets filled with ice water. As Dominique Kogut blew a whistle two times, the students raised their buckets and poured it over their heads — screaming from the sudden chill and then cheering.
The students were participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge — a phenomenon that’s gone viral over social media. It was started by Pete Frates, of Beverly, Mass., and raises awareness and money to combat amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles. More than 12,000 people in the U.S. have ALS.
The challenge involves an individual or group drenching themselves in ice water on video. The individuals nominate others to do the same and/or donate to the ALS association.
The Sheehan students were nominated by Montville High School’s marching band. They immediately accepted and began planning how to complete the challenge in a unique way, said Dominique Kogut, a Sheehan senior and drum major.
“It’ll be synchronized because we’re a marching band and that’s what you’d expect,” said Jen Ryan, fellow senior and drum major. “We wanted it to be fun, but professional.”
Both Kogut and Ryan counted the number of students that were participating and put them in formation in the middle of the artificial turf field.
Kogut used a whistle to give the group commands to make sure the challenge was done in sync.
“It’s a good reflection of who we are,” Ryan said. “We’re professional; we have to be very tight, but we like to have fun.”
The marching band also spent the week collecting donations. Kogut and Ryan were unsure how much was collected, but their goal was at least $100.
Donations total $53.3 million, the ALS Association said in a statement Friday.
“The ALS Association has received $53.3 million in donations compared to the $2.2 million during the same time period last year,” the statement said. “These donations have come from existing donors and 1.1 million new donors.”
Town Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni completed the challenge and nominated fellow councilor Robert F. Parisi. Dressed in a gray T-shirt, shorts and slippers, Parisi completed the challenge Wednesday.
“It was a little cold. I had the shower running and ran into the house and got into the hot shower,” Parisi said Friday. Children and camp counselors at Educational Playcare, 15 N. Plains Industrial Road, also completed the ice bucket challenge Thursday. Michael Sinatra, Educational Playcare director, said the challenge was a good opportunity to “teach the children about helping others.”
Owners Gerry Pastor and Jane Porterfield will donate $25 per participant. With 24 participants at the Wallingford location and 90 at the Avon branch, Pastor and Porterfield will donate $2,850.
Meriden City Councilors Kevin Scarpati and Steven Iovanna participated in the ice bucket challenge earlier this month.