Penguins stepping up for ice bucket challenge

| Friday, Aug. 8, 2014, 1:24 p.m.

The idea is simple: Take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, record it and post the video on social media.

It's cold, it's fun and it's contagious. But these ice-bucket challenges and similar social media-powered stunts are raising awareness and money for causes such as Lou Gehrig's disease, breast cancer and a camp for kids who have lost their fathers to war.

The months-old movement is making the rounds with the Pittsburgh Penguins this week.

The fundraising phenomenon asks those willing to douse themselves to challenge others to do the same within 24 hours. If they don't, they must make a donation to a certain charity. Each person who participates nominates more friends, who nominate more friends, who nominate still more friends, which explains why the trend has exploded.

The Penguins challenges kicked off Aug. 6 with Penguins forward Craig Adams and his family — wife, Anne, along with his son, daughter and nephew — dumping ice-and-water-filled buckets (and in Craig Adams' case a garbage can) over their heads. They threw the challenge out to teammates Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz, and assistant general manager Bill Guerin.

The family did the challenge in honor of Anne Adams' father, Paul Cellucci, the former governor of Massachusetts and U.S. ambassador to Canada, who died in 2013 after a lengthy battle with Lou Gehrig's disease or ALS, according to the Penguins website.

Crosby, Kunitz and Guerin all posted their ice-bucket challenge videos the next day, which just happened to be Crosby's birthday. They then threw out challenges to other teammates and colleagues, including Marc-Andre Fleury , Pascal Dupuis , Kris Letang, Robert Bortuzzo , Simon Despres , Rob Scuderi , Kasperi Kapanen and Paul Martin. Guerin also challenged others to make a donation for ALS research. Assistant coach Rick Tocchet posted his video Friday.

Fleury gets particularly creative in his video, wearing a banana costume as he and his wife get soaked.

In Crosby's video , he cites former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates as his inspiration. Frates, 29, was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative disease, also known as ALS, in 2012. He is now paralyzed, eats through a feeding tube and cannot talk.

On Aug. 7, Frates' parents, Nancy and John, joined 200 people who doused themselves in Boston's Copley Square. The couple says the ice-bucket challenge has done more to increase understanding about ALS than anything they've done over the past two years.

“Who knew all it would take was a bag of ice and a bucket?” John Frates told the crowd, just before participants simultaneously poured 9-quart buckets of ice water over their heads.

For those who work to raise awareness of ALS, the ice-bucket challenge has been a windfall.

The ALS Association's national president, Barbara Newhouse, says donations to the national office surged during the 10-day period that ended Aug. 7, to about $160,000, from $14,480 during the same period a year ago. That's not counting donations to chapter offices around the country, Newhouse says.

“It's just been wonderful visibility for the ALS community,” Newhouse says. “It is absolutely awesome. It's crazy, but it's awesome, and it's working.”

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