Veterans Home in Tilton takes on ALS challenge
TILTON — Margaret “Peggy” LaBrecque stood, shivering slightly, in the New Hampshire Veterans Home courtyard Friday afternoon.
LaBrecque, the home’s commandant, had just been drenched with water and ice from an ice bucket. She was one of several of the home’s staff and residents taking part in the nationwide ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.The challenge, a fundraising tool to help find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the brain and spinal cord, leading to muscle weakness, loss of the use of arms and legs and eventually, difficulty speaking, breathing and swallowing. There is no cure.
The challenge started in Massachusetts with former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.
Those taking part are responding to challenges issued by colleagues. Those getting splashed take donations for the cause, then issue challenges to other colleagues.
The activity has gone viral on social networks and in the popular media. In the case of the Tilton home, a local nursing home issued the challenge; LaBrecque and staff in turn issued a challenge to other long-term care-giving facilities.
The veterans’ home currently has no patients suffering from ALS, but LaBrecque and about a dozen people at the home participated to support finding a cure for such a devastating disease, LaBrecque said.
“It was cold, but overall I am, and we are, thrilled to be doing it. It’s a great cause,” she said.
The home raised more than $400 for the ALS Association with the challenge.
One of those participating was not a member of the home’s staff, but the wife of one of its residents. Paula Bertholdt’s husband, Bill Bertholdt, an Air Force veteran, is living at the home. The couple donated $100 to the effort.
They gave because “it’s such a good cause, and it’s the home’s cause at the moment, and I support everything (the home) does,” Paula Bertholdt said. “My husband is in a wonderful place here. We love these people and we support what they do.”