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Santa Clarita Valley ice bucket challenge: The big chill on steroids

Construction firm joins ALS fundraiser, skip loader style

Posted: August 22, 2014 6:45 p.m.
Updated: August 22, 2014 6:45 p.m.

Dick Grenburg, retired CFO of C.A. Rasmussen, participates in the ALS ice bucket challenge along with about 20 other employees of the Valencia construction firm Friday. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

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When a Valencia-based construction company with a contract to rebuild a local freeway decides to get in on the Internet phenomenon known as the ice bucket challenge — well, you just know it has to involve heavy equipment.

Plastic buckets simply weren’t big enough for C.A. Rasmussen Inc. owner Charlie Rasmussen, whose firm is helping reconstruct Highway 126.

Instead, Rasmussen brought in a giant skip loader Friday with its 12-foot-long scooper filled with 1,200 gallons of water and about 400 pounds of ice.

“This is the ice bucket challenge on steroids,” Rasmussen said just before he and about 20 of his employees took the plunge Friday.

Then the John Deere loader’s operator unleashed the icy barrage on the group, raining down a frigid torrent that seemed to go on and on.

Truth be told, it wasn’t the first time a construction company has used such equipment to up the ante on the practice of getting buckets of ice water — or loaders of such — dumped over participants’ heads and challenging others to do the same. Several firms back East have posted YouTube videos showing similar skip loader dousings.

But it was probably the biggest ice bucket challenge so far in Los Angeles County — for sure in the Santa Clarita Valley, said employee Stacey Klein, who organized the event after being challenged by Rasmussen’s wife, Patti.

After getting drenched, the employees were treated to some ice-cold champaign to celebrate their deed.

Around the nation, the ice bucket challenge has raised more than $42 million to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

For Charlie Rasmussen, the viral fundraiser has a deeply personal significance.

“The ALS Association is something that’s dear to us,” he said, fighting to keep his composure while pointing to a portrait of his father and company founder, Carl Rasmussen.

“It was 25 years ago in May when my dad passed away from ALS, and it’s a really horrible thing for anybody to go through,” he said.

“They describe the illness as a having a front-row seat to your own demise, where your mind is here, but your body just goes away. It’s a really difficult thing for a family to watch somebody you love go through that.”

The Rasmussen family annually donated to the ALS Association long before ice bucket challenges went viral on the Internet earlier this year, he added.

This year, C.A. Rasmussen Inc.’s employees raised more than $1,000 with Friday’s challenge. The company also challenged three of its major vendors to ice bucket challenges.

“We’re doing it in his memory,” Rasmussen said of his father. “And we’re hoping this brings us closer to a cure.”

 

 

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