The Ice Bucket Challenge is the latest internet craze to capture the imagination of Bridlington’s residents and dozens have drenched themselves with freezing water for charity.
But for one family the phenomenon, which has raised almost £250,000 for the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA), serves as a poignant reminder of their tragic experience with the disease.
Jim Mearns was 69 when he died at Bridlington Hospital after a year suffering with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) - an incurable neurological condition affecting muscle movement.
Now his son, James Mearns, 32, of St Johns Walk, has filmed his own Ice Bucket Challenge in memory of his dad.
James, whose wife Kirsten and brother also took part in the challenge, said: “It is a cause close to my heart. My dad was in his late 60s when he died and we see young people suffering from it too.
“The disease took away the two things he loved - talking to people, such as his friends in the street, and it took away his ability to eat - he had to be fed through a tube.”
The challenge sees a nominated person announce a number of others who must then take part. A bucket of icy water is then poured over their heads and the whole process is filmed before being posted online. It is intended that participants will donate money to MNDA whether they accept the challenge or not.
“It is fantastic. I think it is really good, I think it is a brilliant way to raise awareness,” said James, who is also preparing to take on the Great North Run in September wit hhis sister and nephew in aid of MNDA.
He added: “I did not think it would be so popular, I don’t think there’s a better way to raise awareness.”
James’s relatives Neil Taylor, along with Neil’s sister Jackie Phillip, and her son Joseph, all ran the Great North Run for the Association in 2011, raising £7,500.
A string of celebrities have taken part in the challenge including fashion-designer Victoria Beckham who was doused in freezing water by her family, super model Kate Moss and even Kermit the Frog has given it go.
Belinda Cupid, head of research at the MND Association, said: “Motor Neurone Disease is a very rare condition, only about 5,000 are living in the UK with the disease. Half the people with Motor Neurone Disease will die within two years and one of the things they find is they have to keep on saying to their friends and family what Motor Neurone Disease is.
“Having that kind of information on social media and everybody talking about it means a lot more people will have heard of the condition. We are delighted that social media has taken off with the Ice Bucket Challenge but equally having people knowing about Motor Neurone Disease makes it much easier for us to fund riase in the future.
“A big thank you to all the people who supported the Motor Neurone Disease through this Ice Bucket Challenge.”
MND, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) as it is known in the USA, is a progressive condition that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones which control the muscles.
It is incurable and carries a life expectancy of around five years. However, sufferers of different strains can live much longer. The Motor Neurone Disease Association seeks to find a cure for the disease and offers support to people affected by the condition.
And now a Bridlington fundraiser is planning to break the world record for the most ice bucket challenges completed simultaneously. Trish Robinson is urging Bridlington residents to come along the The Sterling Castle on Saturday 20 September at 2pm to take part in what she hopes will be the biggest challenge ever.
To help James raise money for MND visit www.justgiving.com/James-mearns1