On one of the hottest days of the year so far, Georgia Regents University President Ricardo Azziz got cooled off fast.
He took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in front of several faculty and students outside the Jaguar Student Activities Center on Friday and then issued his own challenge to Augusta Mayor-elect Hardie Davis, among others, to get doused within 24 hours or donate to the ALS clinic at Georgia Regents Medical Center or both, as Azziz did.
The challenge of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS, a progressive neuromuscular degenerative disease, is not an abstract concept for Azziz. A member of his leadership team, whom he declined to name out of respect for the man’s privacy, was recently diagnosed with it.
“One day he’s fine and the next day he’s deteriorating,” he said. “It’s a terrible disease. We’re still looking for a cure.”
Azziz was named by a number of people to do the Ice Bucket Challenge but took the challenge from ALS clinic director Michael Rivner, who took the icy bath himself Tuesday, along with seven other members of the clinic. Since then, the clinic has seen a couple of days where $2,000-$3,000 came in, said Brandy Quarles, a research associate who was one of those who got doused.
Along with money, the challenge has attracted more teams to participate in the clinic’s annual fundraising walk Beat Feet for ALS on Sept. 27 and as of Friday afternoon the total from both was more than $36,000, she said.
“The community definitely responded and supported us,” Quarles said.
The challenge has been a huge success nationally for the ALS Association, which said as of Friday it had received $53.3 million in less than a month and attracted 1.1 million new donors.
Not everyone was impressed by the effort Friday.
“Not enough ice,” said Keisha Nagai, a junior at GRU who stopped to watch. But she added, “I think it’s awesome.”
Taylor Mitchell thought the ice to water mix was just right and thanked Azziz for doing it.
“I’m glad he accepted the challenge,” the GRU senior said.