By LINDA M. LINONIS
Freezing! Shocking! Ooo-wee! Chilly!
Those are just a few reactions of staff members Friday afternoon at St. Charles School, 7325 Westview Drive, who accepted an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge from Holy Family School, where an event took place earlier this week.
With a row of 24 chairs lined up in front of school, staff members took their seats and some 364 students in kindergarten through eighth grade gathered on the lawn. Motorists on U.S. Route 224 near the school, who caught the red light, also witnessed the proceedings.
Mary Welsh, St. Charles School principal, said the staff accepted a challenge from Holy Family School, where 15 teachers had taken the challenge.
Both schools will give donations to retired Boardman High School teacher Christine Moschella Terlesky, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2013. She taught for 19 years and retired
Feb. 28. Her family started a
Facebook page called “Chip in for Chris” and website, www.chipinforchris.com. Her story also has been featured in The Vindicator.
“We wanted donations to go to Christine Terlesky because she is an educator and we wanted to support her and her family,” Welsh said. She added that some St. Charles teachers also are affiliated with Boardman High and know Terlesky and her family.
Kristine Rendle, seventh- and eighth-grade science and math teacher, said she participated because “it’s for a good cause.”
Micki Biasella, second-grade teacher, said her mother died of ALS and she wanted to support others struggling with the disease. “My mom would be so happy about this,” she said.
Biasella said other more prominent diseases such as cancer get so much attention but ALS is rare and isn’t talked about much.
“This is a way to help support Christine and help others by bringing attention to the disease,” Biasella said. “It’s a devastating disease and people suffer.”
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease, first identified in 1869. The ALS Association describes it as “a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
Jennifer Gray, president of St. Charles Home and School Association, said parents were asked to make a donation for the project. Welsh said money is still coming in and hasn’t been tallied.
St. Charles, meanwhile, has challenged St. Christine School, St. Charles youth ministry and Lumen Christi Catholic Schools staff.
The challenges at the parochial schools did not encounter any issues with the Catholic church because the funds benefit Terlesky.
Bishop George V. Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown said the diocese has “no moral problem” with people participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. But, he said, funds raised should benefit an ALS patient directly, for example, for medical care and associated expenses, or be donated toward adult stem-cell research. St. John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa, focuses on adult stem-cell research.
Where the Catholic church takes issue with the fundraiser is that a portion of donated money goes to embryonic stem-cell research by the ALS Association.
“The church believes that the destruction of embryonic stem cells is immoral,” Bishop Murry said. That research involves the destruction of a human life, the church says.
In a letter to parochial school staffs in the diocese, it was noted that the “Pontifical Academy for Life has stated that all human life embryos are inherently valuable and should not be voluntarily destroyed as they are from the moment of the union of cells.” The statement continued that “the Church supports research that involves stem cells from adult tissues and the umbilical cord, as it involves no harm to human beings at any state of development.”
Bishop Murry said he witnessed the progress of the disease on the Rev. Brad Helman, who served at St. Michael the Archangel Church in Canton. The priest died in 2010, eight months after his diagnosis. Bishop Murry said he saw more diminished abilities at each visit with Father Helman. “We need to find a cure for this devastating disease as soon as possible,” Bishop Murry said.