Oak Harbor Boys & Girls Club takes ALS challenge

Children and staff with the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Harbor respond to the Ice Bucket Challenge Thursday in front of the Roller Barn. The club has raised more than $250 toward the ALS Association. - Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Children and staff with the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Harbor respond to the Ice Bucket Challenge Thursday in front of the Roller Barn. The club has raised more than $250 toward the ALS Association.
— image credit: Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

In a tearful dedication, Norrie Perreault also made a lot of kids giddy with excitement.

Perreault, program director at the Boys & Girls Club of Oak Harbor, joined unit director Nikki Barone Wednesday morning in announcing that the club was nominated to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Familiar with the ALS awareness phenomenon that features videotaped dousings of ice water, the large group of kids at the club naturally reacted with frenzied approval.

After getting word out to parents as quickly as possible and securing enough buckets and ice for a thorough soaking, the challenge was met Thursday in the parking lot in front of the Roller Barn.

About 40-50 screaming kids, along with Boys & Girls Club staff members, experienced the thrill and chill of the social media craze invented less than a month ago that has since gone viral.

The Whidbey Island Rollergirls, who play their home matches in the Roller Barn, set the course of actions in motion when they targeted the Boys & Girls Club with the Ice Bucket Challenge, giving the club 24 hours to respond or pay up to the ALS cause.

To avoid payment, those challenged must get immersed with a bucket of ice water, videotape it and post it to social media with an announcement of the next target.

Started July 29 as a way to increase awareness and raise money toward ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, the phenomenon has raised more than $53 million through Thursday, compared to $2.2 million during that same time frame a year ago.

Often, those who take the challenge donate to the cause anyway. Parents of Boys & Girls Club members each were asked to contribute $2.

At last count Friday, the club raised $255, Barone said.

Amber Grogan, whose son, Paxton, 7, participated, didn’t mind at all.

“I think it’s totally great,” she said of the idea.

“I read about it online. I was so glad. It’s just so cool.”

Buckets provided by The Home Depot and ice from Arby’s restaurant contributed to the success, Barone said.

Perreault announced that the next targets of the Ice Bucket Challenge were all units of the Boys & Girls Club of Snohomish County, Oak Harbor’s Les Schwab Tire Center and Chicago Title.

The idea has been contagious in Oak Harbor with several succumbing to ice water dousings, including Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Reed and Oak Harbor Schools board president Christine Cribb.

Oak Harbor police chief Ed Green was scheduled to take the challenge Friday afternoon.

At the Roller Barn, it was a bittersweet occasion for Perreault, who told the kids in an emotional announcement Wednesday that they were dedicating the challenge to Heather DeLeon, who’s moving out of state next month after spending three years as part of the Boys & Girls Club staff. She said she wanted to do something DeLeon and her children would remember.

“We wanted to do something special for them,” Perreault said.

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