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Video: Freezing for the ALS cause

About 10 groups of Willmar Middle School teachers and staff paraded in front of the school in quick succession for the midday dunking Tuesday. The stunt draws attention to ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)2 / 2

WILLMAR — Teachers and staff of Willmar Middle School took a break from lesson planning Tuesday to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

They gathered in front of the middle school, some teachers donning swim caps, floaties and goggles, to dump buckets of cold water on their heads in support of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis awareness.

“It’s a great way to build camaraderie for the staff and participate in a great cause,” said Chelsea Brown, a seventh-grade teacher.

Not only were the teachers raising awareness for the disease, but they were remembering their former co-worker, Cindy Porter, who died as a result of ALS.

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, according to The ALS Association, a national nonprofit organization. Those who suffer from the fatal disease lose control of muscle movement and can be left paralyzed in later stages.

Those who participate in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge dump a bucket of ice water on their head on video, post the video to social media and nominate their friends to do the same to raise awareness for the disease.

Donations generated from the ice bucket challenge help support the ALS Association’s mission to provide further research and assistance for those with the disease.

Mary Sawatzky, special education teacher, was nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge and decided to nominate the entire staff of Willmar Middle School at their meeting last night.

Sawatzky was nominated by a family friend, Anthony Reynolds, a 2006 graduate of Willmar Senior High School.

Before completing their challenge, Willmar Middle School staff nominated the staff of all other Willmar Public Schools. They also nominated Willmar Middle School’s former assistant principal, Beckie Simenson, who is now principal at Litchfield Middle School.

For more information or to donate to the cause, visit