Over 150 people gathered at the King Philip Regional High School on Monday, August 31 to participate in a three town ice bucket challenge. The event organized by KP Cares, a student community group, was quickly brought together but perfectly executed as enthusiastic participants willingly dumped ice cold water on their heads in an effort to raise money for ALS Association and the Gemelli Family Fund.
Organizers hoped to have a good turn out but were unsure how many people to expect since the event was organized in less than a week. The folks from Plainville, Norfolk and Wrentham did not disappoint. From 6 to 6:45 p.m. car after car pulled into the high school parking lot with people of all ages hopping out with buckets and bags of ice. The crowd formed a line and filled their buckets with water courtesy of the school. Ice was also provided by Novatos Bar and Grill of Norfolk.
KP Cares president, Brianna Connor, was blown away by the size of the crowd and said close to $2,000 was raised.
The event came together quickly, thanks to the efforts of KP Cares, Fr. Bill Schmidt of St. Mary and St. Martha, as well as members of KP administration, and town of Wrentham officials. A group met last Tuesday and in just a few days, secured a location, support of local businesses, and publicized the event to the three towns.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has a special significance to Schmidt. Before arriving in Wrentham, Schmidt became close friends with Pete Frates, the inspirational force behind the Ice Bucket challenge.
Frates' story is well documented. The former Boston College baseball player has ALS and he and his friends created the Ice Bucket Challenge which took off in the summer of 2014. It brought ALS into the spotlight and raised over $200,000,000. Schmidt is also close to Tim Gemelli, a beloved Wrentham man diagnosed with ALS, and a fund has been set up to support him and his family as he battles the disease.
Before the group ice bucket challenge was made, Connors and Schmidt spoke. Schmidt, who was the priest at Frates' wedding, spoke of baptizing his daughter Lucy last year, and that August 31st, was actually her 1st birthday. The crowd sang her happy birthday as a drone was flown to film the song which will be sent to the family to watch.
Also speaking was Beth Burke, Tim Gemilli's sister-in-law. Burke was visibly moved by the turnout and thanked the community for its support of her family and Tim Gemelli.
Wrentham selectman Joe Botaish served as the night's DJ and led a countdown to the big moment as the group collective accepted the ice bucket challenge.
On hand were administrators from the high school, representatives from the towns, including police, teachers, and local business owners.
August has been designated as the official month of the ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ to support ALS research “every August until a cure!”
To see more of the action visit our three photo galleries.