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Mega ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in works for Garry Point

Georgina Patko doesn’t know how many people to expect at noon tomorrow (Saturday) for a community ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that she’s organized for a friend at Garry Point Park.

“I don’t know how many people are coming, but they’re going to get wet if they want to,” she said.

The event is in honour of Patko’s friend, Sheila Tynan, who was diagnosed nearly three years ago with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and wanted to challenge the entire community of Richmond.

“She will get dunked a little, and is challenging people of Richmond to be dunked,” Patko said. “So that’s what we’re doing.”

In an interview with CTV News, Tynan said: “When the doctor said ‘you have ALS’, Margaret and I looked at each other, our eyes filled with tears, and I don’t think we could say anthing for the longest time.”

Tynan has since lost her ability to speak clearly, and is now confined to a wheelchair.

The event, which runs from noon to 3 p.m., will include a barbecue courtesy M&M Meat Shops Francis Road, with proceeds from sales going to ALS.

As well, Wet Down Water Services is donating a truck and a driver, who will deliver 4,000 gallons of water to the site.

There’s also a water fight being organized, and locals who want to participate in that can come out at 2 p.m. Saturday, strapped down with their water guns.

Representatives from the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Society of B.C. will also be in attendance to collect donations.

Also attending will be Tynan’s teammates from Abreast in Richmond, a cancer survivor dragon boat team.

Tynan is also aiming to raise $500, and has reached 74 per cent of her goal as of Thursday afternoon. To sponsor her, visit tinyurl.com/SheilaTynan.

Wendy Toyer, executive director of the ALS Society of B.C., said the fundraising campaign has raised more than $10 million in Canada, and more than $100 million in North America since Boston College baseball player Peter Frates was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 27.

It was a little over four weeks ago that his first ice bucket challenge was accepted by celebraties and other athletes, and has exploded into a remarkable phenomenon.

“I don’t think the world has ever seen anything like this before.”

Just 12 years ago, there were only four scientific labs in Canada researching the disease, but now there are 60.

She’s confident the infusion of donations will result in an increase in the number of research grants, and more progress toward an effective treatment.

“I think only good things will come from this,” said Toyer, who added: “Any breakthrough with ALS research will benefit other neurological diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimers.”

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