Father Maher, NU Students Complete Ice Bucket Challenge

September 2, 2014  |  by Michael Freedman

The Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University, completed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, along with a couple hundred NU students, Sunday afternoon at Niagara Field.

Father Maher was challenged by the Rev. Dennis H. Holtschneider, C.M., president of DePaul University. DePaul, like Niagara, is a Vincentian institution. Father Holtschneider graduated from Niagara University in 1985, and later served as executive vice president of his alma mater from 2000-2004.

Father Maher accepted the challenge in memory of late Niagara University athletic trainer Ray Kist, who died in 1995 after a long battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

The event was included as part of NU’s New Student Orientation, which continued through Labor Day. Today is the first day of classes at NU.

The buckets for the challenge were donated by Home Depot, while ice was contributed from Sodexo.

Father Maher, as is customary with individuals completing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, issued a challenge to Dr. Tim Downs, provost and chief academic officer, and Dr. Hung Le, vice president for international relations.

Niagara University’s athletics department has published a 25-video YouTube playlist showing student-athletes, coaches and administrators (including athletic director Simon Gray) fulfilling the challenge.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has become a fundraising phenomenon, especially on social media. Donations to the ALS Association have topped more than $100 million to help fight ALS since July 29, which is quadruple the amount raised by the association during the same period last year.

According to the ALS Association website, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death.

Visit the ALS Association online at www.alsa.org.