The ALS ice-bucket challenge has been criticized by some as being more of a viral trend than an effective tool to raise money for patients with Lou Gehrigs Disease, but one ALS patient in Puerto Rico is changing the face of the challenge and he wants Pope Francis to join.
Puerto Rico resident Juan Sepulveda Laracuente suffers from Lou Gehrigs Disease (also known as ALS) and lacks mobility. The neuromuscular disease has paralyzed his vocal chords, and hes connected to machines that keep him alive.
So with the help of a speech synthesizer he tells the audience on YouTube: Tengo la terrible enfermedad de ALS, o mal de Lou Gehrig. Soy de Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, y reto al Papa Francisco al ice-bucket challenge.”
It translates in English to: “I suffer from the terrible disease ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I’m from Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico, and I dare Pope Francis to take the ice-bucket challenge.”
Then you see his aid pull away his voice synthesizer and pour a small bucket of water on him, eliciting a grimace from his face as the cold water pours over him. The shock of the cold was enough stimuli to elicit the expression of a gasp on Juan Spulveda Laracuente‘s face. This brave man has already taken the challenge to the next level even if the Pope doesn’t participate.
The Vatican hasn’t issued any public statement as to whether Pope Francis will take on the challenge; the pontiff might be busy dealing with a family tragedy where some of his relatives died and some were seriously injured in a car crash this week.
Sepulveda Laracuente also dared comedian Raymond Arrieta and singer Chayanne to the challenge.
ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that damages the brain and spinal cord. It makes the patient slowly lose muscle control over time, losing everything from mobility to the ability to talk. Among the many ailments it causes are difficulty swallowing and even breathing.