'Team Marty' strikes

MANCHESTER - "I'm doing it for my friend."

Clad in swim trunks and blue T-shirts emblazoned with "Team Marty" a group of nearly 50 people gathered to do the ice bucket challenge. The viral campaign for the ALS association, that advocates and researches amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or "Lou Gherig's Disease", involves taking a bucket of water and ice, dumping it on your head, challenging your friends and making a donation to the ALSA. The challenge in Manchester was much more than just dumping water on your hear.

Four years ago, Dr. Marty Castlebaum was diagnosed with ALS. For the past few years, a group of his friends, from just a few to nearly 20 people, have been meeting at Bob's Diner, just to talk.

"We all love him," Al Rubin, one of the diner friends said. "It [their ice bucket challenge] is a recognition of a special guy. We just so enjoy this guy."

Frank Lewis, another member of the diner group, said Castlebaum has been extremely inspirational to all of them. Lewis said the idea for a group ice bucket challenge came after one of the group members was challenged. From there they decided to get as many people together and do it all together, with members of the Manchester Country Club.

When it came time to dump their buckets, everyone lined up around Castlebaum. He was seated in the middle of the group in a golf cart. After the water came crashing down and shrieks and laughter rang out over the green, his friends came up and gave Castlebaum hugs and dumped the final drips of icy water over his head.

"This is unbelievable that such a group of people would do this," Castlebaum said. "This disease not only effects the patient, it effects their family, the whole community. It's unbelievable to see these people giving of themselves."

Getting a second opinion is extremely important for anyone with an ALS diagnosis, he said. Anyone that gets such a diagnosis needs to go immediately to a neurologists, that specializes in EMG, the diagnostic tool, he said.

Sandy Castlebaum, Marty's wife, also completed the challenge. While she smiled and laughed during the ice bucket portion of the afternoon, when she spoke about everyone else doing this for her husband, there were tears in her eyes.

"I thought it was awesome," she said. "My husband is blessed with a support group of friends who are unbelievable." As someone who is confronted with the realities an ALS diagnosis bring every day, Castlebaum stressed the importance of the fundraising aspect of the challenge. She said it is so important for well funded research to find a cure.

Lewis said the group has not yet tallied their donations, but he expected they would raise somewhere around $2000. As of press time, according to a report by National Public Radio, the ALS ice bucket challenge has raised $94 million for the ALSA.


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