Macomb TownshipSeptember 3, 2014
Macomb attorney takes Ice Bucket Challenge for mom with ALS
By Jeremy Selweski
C & G Staff Writer
MACOMB TOWNSHIP — The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a national phenomenon, raising millions of dollars for a disease that most people were only vaguely aware of before. But for Macomb Township resident Brad Peri, it’s a disease that hits very close to home.
Peri’s mother, Jean, was diagnosed with ALS in May 2013. The diagnosis has been tough on Peri and his family, but recently they’ve felt a greater level of support than ever before as the Ice Bucket Challenge has taken off all over the country.
“All my friends and family have taken the Ice Bucket Challenge and made donations to the ALS Association,” said Peri, 30. “Just the awareness that this has raised alone has been unbelievable. A lot of people didn’t even know what ALS was until the Ice Bucket Challenge came along — I was the same way until my mom was diagnosed. But now it seems like everyone is familiar with ALS.”
ALS — amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — affects more than 30,000 people across the U.S. today. In Michigan alone, more than 1,200 people are currently battling the neurodegenerative disease. ALS attacks the motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord that control a person’s ability to move, speak, swallow and breathe, while their mind stays fully aware. People with ALS eventually lose the ability to control their muscle movement, which typically leads to paralysis and death within two to five years. There is no cure for the disease.
Peri, who works as a personal injury attorney at the Goodman Acker Law Firm in Southfield, recently brought the Ice Bucket Challenge into his professional life. On Aug. 26, Peri and 26 of his colleagues took the challenge, dumping buckets of ice water over their heads in front of their office on 10 Mile Road. The firm then donated $500 to Peri’s team for ALS of Michigan’s upcoming Walk ‘n’ Roll for ALS and also nominated executives from the Michigan Education Association and the SEIU Michigan State Council to take the challenge.
“The partners all participated in the challenge, too, which was really nice of them,” Peri said. “The firm has been very supportive of this cause. We had almost 100 percent participation for our event, and people were really generous with their donations.”
Nationally, the ALS Association reported that it had received over $100 million in donations during the month from July 29 through Aug. 29 as a direct result of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
According to Joanne K. Berry, development director for ALS of Michigan — which is not affiliated with the ALS Association — as of Aug. 29, her organization had received donations totaling about $92,000 for the month. This is more than four times greater than the $22,000 that it raised in August 2013. She was hopeful that the final monthly total would reach an unprecedented $100,000.
“The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a miracle,” Berry said. “It has provided a huge boost in funding for us, and the timing has just been incredible. This whole thing really could not have come at a better time for us with the walk coming up in a few weeks.”
For the 14th annual Walk ‘n’ Roll, Peri has assembled a team of 10-12 friends and family members under the moniker Jean’s Shoe Brigade, named in honor of his mother’s love of footwear. There will be five events held throughout the state in the month of September. Peri and his team will be taking part in the walk at Stony Creek Metropark on Sunday, Sept. 28.
ALS of Michigan provides free services, education and support to people with ALS living in Michigan, as well as their families and caregivers, and helps fund research to discover the cause of the disease, develop new treatments and find a cure.
Berry anticipated that there would be about 160 teams signed up for this year’s Walk ‘n’ Roll between the five locations in Shelby Township, Lansing, Milford, Brownstown Township and Midland. All team members are encouraged to set a fundraising goal of $200 per person. Between donations and sponsorships, the event typically brings in about $300,000 annually for ALS of Michigan.
“The walk is absolutely critical for us because it provides about half of our revenue every year,” Berry explained. “It’s a really fun, uplifting event for everyone who participates, and all the money we raise will stay right here in Michigan.”
Peri hopes that the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge will give the Walk ‘n’ Roll a boost in participation this year. He knows that every dollar raised for ALS of Michigan will allow people like his mom to live full and satisfying lives while they continue to battle the disease.
“It’s been amazing to see the level of support that the Ice Bucket Challenge has received,” Peri said. “It was really touching to see so many people get involved and not just brush it aside. Now we have to work to keep this cause in the spotlight, not just with the Ice Bucket Challenge, but by raising awareness through other events like the walk. Every little bit helps, and I just want to do my part.”
For more information on ALS of Michigan’s 14th annual Walk ‘n’ Roll for ALS, visit www.alsofmichigan.org or call (800) 882-5764.