The John P. Monahan Plaza on the University of St. Thomas campus is expected to be a sea of purple buckets, ice water and shivering participants who show up for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Thursday afternoon, Sept. 4.

Think how refreshing this bucket of ice and water is going to feel.

Think how refreshing this bucket of ice and water is going to feel.

St. Thomas students, staff, faculty and neighbors are all welcome to participate. Buckets, water, ice and even towels will be provided. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is designed to raise awareness and research funds for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”).

The challenge will be held from 3 to 4:30 p.m. outside the Anderson Student Center.

Registration starts at 3 p.m., and the mass ice-water dousing is scheduled to take place at approximately 3:30 p.m.

If you want to participate, here’s how:

  • First, go to the John P. Monahan Plaza starting at 3 p.m. and look for the two registration tents that are next to the plaza fountain. To register and participate, you must sign a waiver. When you do that, you’ll receive a purple UST bucket.
  • Once you have a bucket, volunteers will direct you to a trough where you can fill your bucket with water and ice. It’s up to you how much you want to pour on your head.
  • After you have your ammo, volunteers will show you where to stand. The idea is to have participants line up to form the letters “UST.” Once the letters are formed, any extra participants will form rows underneath the letters. The diagram below shows how things will look.
  • At this point, wait for further instructions. As you can see from the diagram, the second and third floors of the Anderson Student Center will provide a good bird’s-eye view of the action.

Dr. Carol Bruess, professor of communication and journalism, director of the university’s Family Studies Program, and an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge veteran (you can read her Newsroom blog here) will be the emcee and introduce St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan and Dr. Deb DeMeester, director of St. Thomas’ Public Safety and Law Enforcement Leadership Graduate Programs.

DeMeester is a friend and colleague of Dr. Bruce Kramer, former dean of the College of Education, Leadership and Counseling. Kramer has ALS and frequently has been interviewed about living with the disease on a series of programs broadcast on Minnesota Public Radio with Cathy Wurzer.

Dr. Bruce Kramer, pictured at his 2012 retirement party.

Dr. Bruce Kramer, pictured at his 2012 retirement party.

When Kramer heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at St. Thomas, his reply: “My face hurts from smiling.”

Tommie, the St. Thomas mascot, has the honor of launching the first bucket of ice water. Tommie’s target: the head of President Julie Sullivan.

And now’s when the ice water really starts flowing. Dr. Richard Plumb, executive vice president and provost, will be the first to go. He’ll be standing at the top of the “U”in “UST.” Participants will be asked to dump their buckets in a wave, starting the top of the letters and progressing toward the bottom. Once the wave reaches the bottom, it will continue to the lines formed beneath the letters.

After everyone is soaked, volunteers will distribute purple UST towels. Participants are welcome to keep their buckets and towels as souvenirs.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenges usually are filmed, and the St. Thomas challenge will be no exception. Film crews from Web and Media Services, and Photo Services, will be stationed to record the action. Videos and photos will be posted on St. Thomas’ Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles, as well as the Newsroom website.

Since most everyone will be soaked by the end of the challenge, the event will be held rain or shine.

Donations to the ALS Association are voluntary. Representatives from the association will be at a tent on the plaza. You can make a donation there, either before or after getting soaked, or later on the ALS Association website. You aren’t required to make a donation to participate in the event, and you aren’t required to dump ice water on your head to make a donation.

Concerns have been raised about participation in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because while the Catholic Church is not opposed to research using adult stem cells, it is opposed to research using embryonic stem cells. Signs posted at the ALS donation tent will state: “Donations collected at the Sept. 4 Ice Bucket Challenge at the University of St. Thomas will be sent to the ALS Association with the stipulation that the money will not be used to support embryonic stem-cell research.”

For more information about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, there’s background about it here on Wikipedia. As of late last week, the challenge has raised nearly $100 million for ALS research.

St. Thomas was “challenged” to hoist the bucket by the ALS Association Center of Excellence at the Hennepin County Medical Center and by Dr. Bruce Kramer’s congregation, the Good Samaritan United Methodist Church of Edina.

Diagram for the Sept. 4 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at St. Thomas. The Anderson Student Center is in the upper-left-hand corner; the plaza fountain is at the bottom.

Diagram for the Sept. 4 ALS Ice Bucket Challenge at St. Thomas. The Anderson Student Center is in the upper-left-hand corner; the plaza fountain is at the bottom.