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Meaning Of Ice Bucket Challenge

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DAVENPORT, IA – Nikki and Craig Leonard both lost their fathers to ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. Their family is so grateful for the viral Ice Bucket Challenge. They see it as a great way of raising awareness of a disease that is often overlooked.

“It's shocking, it's devastating to hear. You don't wish this upon your worst enemy to ever be diagnosed with this disease,” says Nikki Leonard.

Craig's father, Wayne Leonard, was first diagnosed in 2008. Just two years later, Nikki's father, Mike Bowker, suffered the same news.

Nikki says, “This is the worst disease to go through, to watch somebody go through. There is no cure for this. You're looking at somebody with no hope laying there.”

ALS is a rare and deadly disease that weakens nerves and muscles over time. Neurologist John Matthew Wright of Neurological Consultants Pc says he only sees one or two patients with Lou Gehrig's each year. “The nerves feed the muscles of speech,” says Dr. Wright, “speech problems, swallowing problems and eventually trouble breathing. Eventually patients will often have to decide whether they want to go on a breathing machine to stay alive.”

Dr. Wright says life expectancy is less than five years, and the Leonard's felt the pain as they lost both Wayne Leonard and Mike Bowker within that time.

“Mike lived four years, Wayne lived five years,” says Nikki, “I think they [the public] needs to know the details and how it can take somebody so quickly.” Nikki was overcome by tears as she remembers Mike who passed away just one month ago from ALS.

These two heartbreaking losses leave Nikki and Craig Leonard dedicated to finding a cure for Lou Gehrig's Disease.

Craig says, “That would be best. Find a cure. Even a baby step toward a cure would be best.”

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