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October 06, 2014

Irwindale Speedway holds one of the Biggest ALS Ice Bucket Challenges

Irwindale-Speedway-holds-one-of-Biggest-ALS-ChallengesBy Derek Handova

In September, the Irwindale Speedway held the largest ALS Ice Bucket Challenge ever seen in the Greater Los Angeles area and one of the largest ever held in the United States, according to its press release (see the YouTube video below to catch some of the highlights). Thankfully, the number of these videos plastered across social media has finally started to taper off because I just couldn’t bear to watch another one of them—all those shivering people give me the willies! However, if you're gonna go out with one last image of an ice bucket challenge, then it may as well be this one.

Irwindale-Speedway-holds-one-of-Biggest-ALS-ChallengesBut seriously, the Irwindale Event Center that runs the Irwindale Speedway activities did an awesome job of organizing more than 200 auto-racing fans to take on the brrr-utal thrill of the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise over $3700 for research to find a cure or treatments for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Combined, all the participants in the Irwindale version of the challenge ponied up more than $1800 that was matched dollar for dollar by Irwindale Event Center president and CEO Jim Cohan boosting the total contribution to just above $3700! “This was just a great night for us,” Cohan said. “Needless to say we're very pleased and quite proud to be a part of this incredible phenomenon. Our Irwindale fans really are the best, seeing over 200 of them on the track paying to get soaked by our track’s water truck for such a worthy cause, is something that I'll remember for a long, long time."

The truck of which Cohan speaks is a 5000-gallon liquid hauler that was filled to the brim with bone-chilling H2O that subsequently and liberally sprayed the Ice Bucket Challengers with not one but two passes of a spine-tingling shower. Fortunately, the night air in early September Irwindale tends to be on the warm side, and after their soaking everyone was immediately treated to a fluffy towel, courtesy of the track’s host hotel, Courtyard by Marriott, Monrovia.

Even though no actual buckets were emptied on this special night at the races, much needed money was raised for the ongoing battle against the mysterious affliction ALS, also commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease” after the hall of fame baseball player who contracted the illness while playing for the legendary New York Yankees of the 1930s. In the prime of his career, Gehrig was suddenly and maddeningly slowed by ALS halting his baseball career and shortening his life. No one knew what to make of it and it was not easily diagnosed at the time. But eventually Gehrig got the devastating news about the disease that was quickly eating away at this muscles, sapping his vitality and which eventually took him at the tragic age of 37, only two years after he retired amid the drama and pathos of the “today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth” speech he delivered on July 4, 1939.

The year 2014 marked the 75th anniversary of Gehrig’s speech. During this milestone year, Pete Frates of Beverly, Mass., who has lived with ALS for two years decided to draw attention to the condition by dumping icy water on his head, recording it on video, posting it on YouTube and challenging others to do the same or donate money to ALS research or both. The phenomenon quickly went viral with common folk and celebrities alike getting involved. To date, more than $115 million has been donated to the ALS Foundation, including Irwindale Speedway’s $3700. Way to go, race fans!

“A huge thanks to Irwindale Event Center for supporting us in this ‘Ice Bucket Challenge!’” said Richelle Koffman, special events coordinator, ALS Association Golden West Chapter. “We raised almost $4000 for the ALS Association Golden West Chapter.”


Derek Handova is a part-time blogger, freelance journalist, and former auto enthusiast publication professional who has worked with many car experts over the years, including a lot of women.





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