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CORRECTION: 5 caretakers take ‘ice bucket challenge’ for man with ALS

SCV resident has lived with disease for 11 years

Posted: August 23, 2014 9:59 p.m.
Updated: August 29, 2014 6:10 p.m.

Cary Dermer is an SCV resident who has lived with ALS for 11 years. His five caregivers took the ice bucket challenge at AV Equipment Rentals in Newhall today where ice water was dumped on them from a skip loader. L-R: Betty Estrada, Liz Kerr, Rosa Aguilar, Dana Bohlig, and Mercedes Graham. Photo For The Signal/Jayne Kamin-Oncea

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Editor's note: The following story corrects an earlier version posted Aug. 23 that incorrectly said what the 'ice bucket challenge' money would be used for. All proceeds from the ice bucket challenge for Cary Dermer went to the ALS Association.

Five young women put a spin on the now-famous “ice bucket challenge” in honor of a longtime Santa Clarita resident who has suffered from ALS for 11 years.

On Saturday, the caretakers for Cary Dermer lined up underneath a skip loader from AV Equipment Rentals Inc. in Newhall filled with ice water. They ended up completely soaked.

“We decided it would be kind of fun for them to take the ice bucket challenge, and we would watch and applaud them for all the good that they do,” said Jackie Dermer, Cary’s wife.

Watching from the sidelines, Dermer saw his five caretakers get soaked with ice water in his honor.

The disease has been a part of his life for 11 years, and yet Dermer still has the ability to speak, despite being hooked up to a ventilator and feeding tube.

His caretakers commended his gentle nature and ability to put others before himself.

“Cary is the sweetest, smartest man you will ever meet, because all he does is care about other people,” said Elizabeth Kerr, one of Dermer’s caretakers. “He totally deserves to be the angriest person ever because of having this disease, but he is not.”

Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS attacks motor neurons in the body. The condition is ultimately fatal, as weakness and paralysis spread through the muscles and eventually affect speech, swallowing, chewing and breathing.

As many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time, and it usually occurs between the ages of 40 and 70 years old, according to the ALS Association.

To raise money and spread awareness, the ALS Association created the "ice bucket challenge,” which encourages friends and family to donate.

As of Saturday, the ALS Association has raised $62.5 million in donations as a result of the challenge.

“I think it’s needed to raise awareness, because so many people don’t know about ALS,” Kerr said. “It is starting to help, and understanding is the first step.”

As the challenge’s popularity begins to fade, many have pointed out that not all those who participate end up donating money to the cause.

Kerr, however, believes that the challenge has done more good than bad.

“We live in a stingy world and a bad economy where we are forced to preserve our money,” Kerr said. “But if something as simple as pouring ice water over our heads will spread the word to someone who has money to give, then I think everyone should do it.”

All funds raised during the ice bucket challenge for Cary Dermer went directly to the ALS Association, Kerr said.

The foundation provided Dermer with various medical equipment to make it possible for him to take an airplane flight for the first time. He's heading for San Francisco.

Despite his disability, Kerr says that Dermer has always had a positive outlook on life.

“He always says that he has ALS — but ALS is not his life,” Kerr said.

 

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