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Walpole Community Participates in the Fight to End ALS Local Nonprofit “4youiwilllfight” initiates second Ice Bucket Challenge

By Renee Abbott

Tara O’Brien Pacella and her family created the “4youiwillfight” organization to raise awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) following O’Brien Pacella’s diagnosis in January. So far, the organization has led numerous events and fundraisers including a Chuck-a-Puck hockey fundraiser and their shirt business, where profits for shirts go towards ending ALS. Their latest endeavor is to revive the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge in efforts to further raise awareness for ALS. Walpole seniors and the WHS boys’ hockey team have participated and nominated other local teams and families.

“We try to participate as much as we can towards the ‘4youiwillfight’ fund,” Ethan McDonough, a player for the WHS boys’ hockey team, said. “As a team, we think it’s very important to participate in these activities in order to remind [Pacella] that she has the support of the entire community during her fight against ALS.”

Walpole boy's hockey team participates in Ice Bucket Challenge at WHS.

The original Ice Bucket Challenge, founded by Pete Frates, generated worldwide support and raised $115 million in an eight week period to fund research and develop new drugs. The trend was to dump a bucket of ice cold water on oneself to show solidarity with ALS patients because of the symptom of muscle stiffness. Additionally, five new genes impacting ALS were discovered with the help of donations and over 200 research projects were funded.

“In 2014, I did the Ice Bucket Challenge. Like most, I had no idea what ALS was. When I was diagnosed I thought, this isn’t cold? Quickly I learned what cold was: I would feel paralyzed at hockey games or I couldn’t move, but I wasn’t missing games. When I am sitting outside and temperatures drop below 60, my husband has to carry me inside, [because] I can’t feel my feet,” O’Brien Pacella said.

After posting a flyer advertising the movement on Instagram, more videos depicting WHS students participating helped spread the challenge, awareness about the foundation and the disease itself. Social media has been instrumental in spreading awareness to their over 1700 Instagram followers. Boston 25 News has also featured the Ice Bucket Challenge. In the past, “4youiwillfight” has gained attention from prominent New England athletes such as Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski as well as multiple local news stations.

“It has been an easy outlet to share information and to get our message out and social media has allowed us to share our story and connect with people we don’t know across the country battling ALS. It also introduced us to people who have lose loved ones to ALS and want to continue the fight” O’Brien Pacella said.

Despite illness, the Pacella family continues to make a difference in the fight for ALS through 4youiwillfight.

“It is important because 100% of our proceeds go to research for ALS, and we also think it’s important to get everybody involved and our organization has shown that every age group has made a difference,” O’Brien Pacella’s daughter and WHS senior Sophia Pacella said.

Walpole seniors participate in Ice Bucket Challenge.