Millions raised in ice bucket challenge to fund Canadian ALS research
The success of the ice bucket challenge has led to a huge increase in the money that's available for research into ALS.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neuromuscular disease in which nerve cells die and leave voluntary muscles paralyzed. There is no known treatment or cure.
More than 200,000 Canadians took part in the challenge to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease last year. And while the stunt was hailed by some and ridiculed by others, it raised $17 million in Canada alone.
Thursday, the ALS Society of Canada announced that money would go directly to research; $15 million will go to fund 34 research projects across Canada, including here at the Montreal Neurological Institute.
"What we've just done is had an entire year of very active rigorous competition to draw the best peer-reviewed research in Canada and now we have $15 million that will be invested in the best ALS research in the country," said Tammy Moore, CEO of the society.
Normally the group is only able to spend about 1.5 million a year, on average, on research, meaning that the ice bucket challenge has provided enough money to increase their grants tenfold.
Carol Skinner has ALS and advocates on behalf of others dealing with the disease. She says the announcement makes her optimistic.
“Everybody said, you know, you're terminal. That's it. There's no treatment but within this short period of time, two years I’ve had ALS, now there's hope, there's real historic research that now has the potential to find treatments and not only treatment but I’m hopeful for a cure,” she said.
Organizers admit it's going to be hard to raise $17 million every year, so the society is looking for other ways to keep donations coming.