Chilling craze

Montagu’s Vanessa Hills with daughter Brittany and baby Aston. Picture: Jelena Potpara.

Charity. It’s enough to send a shiver down your spine: millions of people around the world are dousing themselves in ice-cold water, filming the event, posting it on social media and then nominating others to do the same.

While the craze went viral overnight, many had no idea what it was all about.

For those who are still unaware, the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ is an initiative helping bring Motor Neurone Disease to the forefront, and raising money along the way.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, MND is the name given to a group of diseases in which nerve cells (neurones) controlling the muscles that enable movement, speech, breathing and swallowing fail to work normally.

With no nerves to activate them, muscles gradually weaken and waste.

Usually the neurones which control intellect and memory are not affected, nor are those which control the bladder and bowels.

MND is also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

In less than one month, close to $90 million has been raised for The ALS Association, based in America.

Montagu woman Brittany Hills admits she was one of those who thought it was all for fun, even though her grandfather Halford “Taffy” Finney died from MND in March last year.

Taffy was 78 when he died, after being diagnosed nine months earlier. There is no cure for the disease.

As the challenge evokes memories of her late father, Vanessa Hills said she hoped people taking part in the challenge had educated themselves on the disease.

“[In the early stages] He couldn’t use his hands, but he was determined and he wanted to feed himself,” Vanessa said. “He syringed [food] into him every two hours from eight in the morning to 10 at night.”

As his condition worsened, the family prepared themselves.

For Vanessa, the hardest was watching her dad – an avid storyteller – lose his ability to speak.

“It was really hard,” Brittany added, “watching him choke; he couldn’t speak.”

The women said they are pleased the challenge is raising awareness of a little-known disease, which there is no government assistance for.

Vanessa added: “People can’t get assistance for it. They can’t work: they can’t move their arms, they can’t talk. How are they meant to get money in?”

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