The latest high profile name to take part in the ALS ice bucket challenge, Belfast Lord Mayor Nichola Mallon, yesterday followed in the footsteps of Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, David Beckham and Tiger Woods in joining the global craze.
Videos of charitable folks getting doused with sub-zero buckets of water in a bid to raise cash and awareness of Motor Neurone Disease - known as ALS in the United States where the ice bucket challenge craze started off - and Macmillan Cancer now literally floods Facebook.
Among other local names who have accepted their nominations for charity are PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton, Alliance leader Naomi Long and Rory McIlroy.
Meanwhile DUP MLA Ian McCrea who took up the challenge twice for both charities said: “Whilst this is a laugh and good fun (for those watching) we should all ensure that regardless of taking part in the challenge or not, we should remember the reason for this awareness campaign and donate by texting ICE to 70550 to give £3 to Macmillian Cancer or text ICED55 £5 to 70070 to support MND.”
Motor Neurone Disease affects about 120 people in Northern Ireland. It is one of the many diseases which is included in the Rare Disease Partnership umbrella group. Almost 18,000 people in Belfast will be affected by a rare disease in their lifetime – that’s one in 17 people. A rare disease is classified as a disease affecting five or fewer in 10,000
Christine Collins, chair of the Northern Ireland Rare Disease Partnership (NIRPD), said: “I applaud the Lord Mayor’s leadership in recognising the efforts, energy and commitment of those living with rare disease, and the leadership of those taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Very often those with rare diseases are a marginalised and excluded group - but one with determination and a will to succeed, a will to live life to the utmost.”
Rare diseases included in the partnership are: Muscular Dystrophy, Spina Bifida, Huntington’s Disease, Vasculitis, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Lupus plus rare forms of cancer.
Jennifer Maloney from the NI branch of the Motor Neurone Disease Association said it was “heartening and uplifting” to see so much awareness and funds being raised for MND - here in Northern Ireland and across the world.
“It’s absolutely unprecedented how this craze has kicked off for motor neurone disease (MND) and just keeps growing,” she said.