Since “Hogan’s Heroes” was canceled, I don’t watch that much on TV. I didn’t witness my first live Ice Bucket Challenge for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — until a few nights ago.
It was actor Mickey Rourke on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”
Rourke said he was challenged by Robbie Keane of the LA Galaxy soccer team. “The Wrestler” said he in turn was challenging Derek Jeter and the ballplayer’s model girlfriend, Hannah Davis.
He put on goggles, lowered himself into one of those vinyl kids swimming pools and said it was for his buddy Teddy, who is battling this insidious disease.
They dumped the ice water on Mickey Rourke. The tough guy smiled and dropped an F-bomb.
A lot of people are doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, including a lot of sports people.
UNLV football coach Bobby Hauck did it Wednesday after two-a-days finished in Ely. Hauck was challenged by Matt Wells, the Utah State football coach. Hauck should now challenge those responsible for the Rebels scheduling Ohio State in 2017.
On Tuesday, I saw a video of Justin Verlander and his model girlfriend, Kate Upton, giving each other the cold head and shoulders. So the pressure’s on, Jetes and Hannah Davis.
Jetes, at least, has accepted the challenge. He has issued one to none other than Michael Jordan.
Everybody’s doing it. LeBron, Bill Gates, Ben Affleck, Ethel Kennedy, Coach K, Justin Bieber, Foo Fighters, Weird Al Yankovic, Toronto mayor Rob Ford, William Shatner. The entire Buffalo Bills training camp roster. Even the guy who blocks for the punter.
The idea was that people write a check for $100 for ALS research, or dump ice water over their head and donate $10. A lot of these people were celebrities who dumped and wrote a check for $100. Many have written checks for more than that.
This is why the Ice Bucket Challenge is literally way cooler than people doing the Macarena and spoofing that “Happy” video.
Naturally, there have emerged cranky people in the media who write that the YouTube videos are getting tiresome, that taking the challenge is only shtick for one’s Facebook page, that people don’t follow up by sending in checks. Or that they would have donated anyway, or that after purchasing Titanic-sized bags of ice, making a Facebook video and sending in a check, people won’t contribute to other charities.
And that they’ll just pirate Simon and Garfunkel songs off the Internet, instead of buying the CD.
Sometimes Cecilia breaks your heart, and shakes your confidence daily.
ALS is much worse than that.
It’s important to raise awareness. Awareness is often the first step to a cure.
On July 15, a couple of weeks before the Ice Bucket Challenge would take a viral turn, I wrote about Dan Spellens, the former Las Vegas Thunder hockey executive who has ALS. Dan and his wife, Melanie, had hoped to raise $10,004 for ALS research — the $4 at the end to honor Lou Gehrig, who wore No. 4.
If successful, they would match the $10,004 by writing a check of their own for that amount, though I had a feeling Mr. and Mrs. Spellens were going to write the check regardless.
I heard from Dan this week. He said he and Melanie have raised more than $100,000 for ALS research through Cedars-Sinai Hospital in California.
“Most of my people are writing good old-fashioned checks,” Dan wrote in an email. “I think the ice bucket thing is great for awareness. Awareness-wise, we certainly could not ask for better timing.”
It’s like putting a little something in the fireman’s boot when one can afford it, minus the video and the cold shoulder. It’s for a good cause. It makes one feel good.
One time while stopped at a traffic light, my car was approached by a woman whose luck appeared to have taken a Ralph Branca downward turn. I gave her a dollar. Or so I thought.
“God bless you, sir!” she said with much more enthusiasm than I had anticipated.
When I got home, I discovered I had given her a $100 bill by mistake.
I was upset at first. Then it made me feel good, although the power company refused to buy my story.
On its Web page Wednesday, the ALS Association reported it has received $31.9 million in donations from July 29 through Aug. 20, compared with $1.9 million over the same period last year. These donations have come from existing donors, and from 637,527 new donors.
A lot of these people should feel good about themselves after toweling off.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.