Cooler heads prevail in “Ice Bucket Challenge.”

President Lynn Pasquerella takes the Ice Bucket Challenge

It all started with a challenge from former MHC chemistry professor Sean Decatur, who is now president of Kenyon College. He dared MHC President Lynn Pasquerella to take the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge,” and Pasquerella immediately accepted.

That meant agreeing to have a bucket of ice water dumped over her head, a popular way to raise money for the fight against ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). The challenge works like this: the person challenged must either donate $100 to the ALS Association or have a bucket of icy water dumped onto his or her head. Many—including President Pasquerella—do both.

At 11 am on a not-very-hot August 18, the president and dozens of staffers gathered outside the College library.  Pasquerella wore a professional dress and jacket ensemble—no wimping out with sweatpants and sweatshirt for her—as she formally accepted Decatur’s challenge and then passed it on. “I am proud to support the fight against ALS and challenge my Five College colleagues to do the same–President Biddy Martin from Amherst College, President Jonathan Lash from Hampshire College, President Kathy McCartney from Smith College, and Chancellor Kumble Subaswamy from the University of Massachusetts Amherst,” she said. “Sean, let me show you how it’s done!”

Chris Domina of Facilities Management did the honors, loosing the icy water from above and drenching the president while staff loudly cheered her bravery.

The Ice Bucket Challenge became a viral phenomenon this summer and has raised awareness of ALS—which affects some 30,000 people in America alone. It has also spiked donations to the ALS Association, which says it has received $13.3 million in donations this year, compared to $1.7 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 17).