Forward Fall 2014

Challenge Accepted: Finding inspiration and hope in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

by Quest Staff on October 30, 2014 - 9:00am

Quest Fall 2014

I never knew ice-cold water could help so much. Like many of you, I proudly accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge … three times. First, with the help of some of our fire fighter friends in suburban Chicago, then with MDA families at a telethon premiere party in Indianapolis, and finally with dozens of enthusiastic campers on a scenic hillside at an MDA camp in New Jersey, one of nearly 80 camps we had this summer and attended by more than 3,500 kids.  

Beyond getting chilled myself, I really enjoyed seeing many of your creative videos as you found clever ways to not only spread awareness and raise funds for ALS, but to represent the broad spectrum of neuromuscular and motor neuron diseases, including ALS, that we at MDA fight. Special thanks to our National Goodwill Ambassadors, past and present, who represented all of our families in taking the ALS plunge and helping MDA raise funds in support of our ALS research and services. 

With this campaign, one family fighting ALS empowered all of us and our social media friends to take action, underscoring that together we can make a big difference. I can’t wait to see the clever digital engagement strategies that will spawn from the challenge. Let your creativity flow!

Our staff have a privileged view to the resolve of MDA families every day at our clinics and through our many support programs. What an honor it is for us to represent you, reminding us of our heritage — we were started by families, for families.  

Steven M. Derks

Whether through video-recorded challenges involving ice water, funding innovative new research projects, meeting face to face with families at our clinics, or driving expanded engagement in our events and programs, our resolve to accelerate progress on your behalf has never been greater. 

As you’ll see in the pages of Quest and on our website at, our families’ stories of inspiration, resilience, dignity and hope fuel our work. With the holidays and family gatherings approaching, I want to thank our families, volunteers, national partners, donors and staff nationwide who proudly support MDA’s lifesaving mission. With your help, Americans affected by muscle disease are living longer and finding strength in the progress that MDA-supported researchers are making in seeking treatments and cures. 

This year, the fight against muscle disease gained momentum on multiple fronts — in promising research, improved clinical and support services, increased advocacy resulting in public policy changes and growing community involvement — but there’s still more work to be done as we look toward 2015. 

Breakthroughs for longer life spans and improved quality of life are within reach — as are treatments and cures. And, with your continued help, we’ll finish the fight, even if we have to get a little wet along the way. Together, we are progress. 

Warmest regards,

Steven M. Derks
President and CEO
Muscular Dystrophy Association

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