The act of dumping a bucket filled with ice water on oneself and posting the video to social media, challenging others to do the same or donate to an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis charity, has been repeated by politicians, athletes and seemingly half of everyone’s friends on Facebook.

The movement has spurred a surge in donations for the national ALS Association, which received $13.3 million in donations between July 29 and Sunday, compared to $1.7 million in the same time period last year. It’s also increased awareness for the neurodegenerative disease, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, that affects around 30,000 Americans at any given time.

Two year’s ago Monday, Carole Marson of Pittston learned she was one of those Americans.

So on Sunday, her husband Steve Marson, the owner of Central Maine Pyrotechnics, got more than 100 friends and family members dump ice-and-water filled buckets on their heads at Westerlund’s Landing in South Gardiner.

Before the event, he said he planned to donate $3,000 to the ALS Association Northern New England, $20 for everyone who did it. The event raised $5,378.

“This is kind of a sad day, but it’s a good day,” Marson said to the large group of participants at the boat landing owned by him and his brother.

Carole Marson, 51, watched the bucket-dumping from her electric wheelchair.

She said the support from her friends and family was overwhelming, and she’s thinks it’s wonderful what the movement has done for the disease and ALS Association.

“Before I was diagnosed two year ago, we didn’t know much about it either, so we’ve done a lot of research on our own and learning,” she said. “The ALS Association has been awesome and supportive, questions, things you need, everything to make our lives the best that they can be at this point. But its nice now that everybody will know about ALS and the association.”

Steve Marson, 58, said he had been wanting to do the challenge and decided to finally share his plan on Facebook last week.

He told the crowd, shortly before getting a five-gallon bucket of ice water dumped on his head, that even though the two-year anniversary of his wife’s diagnosis was a sad day, the challenge was meant to be a fun time.

“There’s no cure for it. There’s no drug for it. They say there’s a drug, but it doesn’t do anything for it, to be honest with you. There is nothing that helps it,” Steve Marson said. “The only thing that helps the people are the family and friends around them that do like what we’re doing today, come out and see who they are and visit with them because we’re very fortunate to have them in our life.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @paul_koenig

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