STUDENTS AND FACULTY at Hyde School pour buckets of icy water over their heads Friday for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

STUDENTS AND FACULTY at Hyde School pour buckets of icy water over their heads Friday for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

BATH

Standing before the podium, his hair pulled back into a ponytail and sunglasses sitting nonchalantly atop his head, Tom Childs held his audience silent as he spoke to students — his words slow, awkward.

“I’m very overwhelmed by all the community support and a new willingness to help a cause that seems important, but not everyone knows someone who has ALS,” he said.

Childs, a member of the Hyde School class of 1983, returned to the school Friday to speak to students, as well as to accept his high school diploma from school administrators. He was diagnosed with ALS a year and a half ago. His brother Bill Childs, class of 1988, asked Hyde School to take the Ice Bucket Challenge for his brother, Tom.

“But it’s out there,” Tom Childs continued. “And to welcome me back here, your support is truly amazing and very humbling to me.

“Things have changed in my life over the past two to three years,” he added. “It’s hard to describe but, you know my voice never used to sound like this, and I used to be able to walk like any of you. I played sports here. I danced here.”

Students thanked Childs for coming to speak to them, and helping them understand why they were taking the ice bucket challenge. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised more than $114 million, which will help the ALS Association with research, public education, advocacy and to care for patients and their families coping with the disease.

“My hope with the ice bucket challenge that has been happening the last couple months is that no one will ever have to do an ice bucket challenge again, because hopefully the money that has been going into the pool will bring about a cure,” Childs said. “I think to myself, a lot of people ask why something has happened to them, and I never felt the urge to do that, in my battle with ALS. Asking why something has happened to me, does no good.

“But if I can help to raise awareness and tell people about what I do to help fight it — whether I succeed or whether I fail — that’s my hope,” he added. “There’s just never any sense in complaining. You have to do something about it.”

Bill Childs told the roomful of students and faculty: “We all share a bond; the principles, the courage, integrity, leadership, curiosity and concern — is what has carried Tom and our family through this endeavor. Horrible news but it makes a tight family even tighter.”

The ALS Association states that Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death, causing the inability of the brain to control muscle movement. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Most commonly, ALS strikes people between the ages of 40 and 70.

Bill Childs said the family spent a year with no clue what was going on with his brother and after multiple doctors and MRIs, they finally got the diagnosis, “and I remember Tom’s cry was one of happiness because at least he knew at that point. And it’s been a long year and a half. Tough times, but with the support of our tribe, our greater tribe, it’s tolerable and we keep our chin up.”

The ALS Association has committed $99 million to find effective treatments and a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who brought international attention to the disease that ended his career in 1939.

Bill Childs, who works for Habitat for Humanity, is training volunteers from AmeriCorps to do work for Habitat and as their first community event nine volunteers helped with the Hyde School challenge filling buckets with water. Lowe’s of Brunswick donated the buckets and Hyde kitchen staff prepared 500 pounds of ice.

All 250 participants gathered in the sunken garden in front of the Hyde mansion and, on Tom Child’s cue, dumped buckets of ice and freezing water over their heads.

For more information about ALS, visit www.alsa.org.

Finding cure for ALS

THE ALS Association has committed $99 million to find effective treatments and a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after the famous baseball player who brought international attention to the disease that ended his career in 1939.

FOR MORE information about ALS, visit www.alsa.org.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: