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Challenge Accepted: Hamilton-Wenham takes plunge for ALS

Nancy Frates

(The Salem News) – Every August until there’s a cure — that’s the mantra behind the ongoing Ice Bucket Challenge and the fight against ALS.

So even though the calendar has changed to September, Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School wasn’t going miss the chance to get in on the battle with Amyotrophic Lateral Schlerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

After hearing from Nancy Frates, mom of ALS patient and crusader Pete, nearly 150 students took part in a massive ice bucket challenge at the high school on Wednesday afternoon. Joined by teachers as well as firefighters and police officers from the town, the H-W community challenged rival Ipswich High to do the same, with the overall message being that the need to spread awareness about ALS is never over.

“Some of our students were only in fourth grade when the original ice bucket challenge happened a few summers ago,” H-W athletic director Craig Genualdo said. “Something like this puts a very real face on something they read about in the paper and see on TV.”

Nancy Frates spoke to the entire student body about her son’s battle with the disease, now in its sixth year. She related some of the progress that’s been made in development treatments since the massive funding came from the original challenge as the way an entire community — whether that be Pete’s at St. John’s Prep and Beverly, or theirs at H-W — can support each other.

“The whole school was captivated by what she had to say. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, the love and support you feel from your community is palpable,” said Genuadlo, who coached Pete for four years while he was a star athlete at St. John’s Prep in the early 2000’s.

“Pete’s been a beacon of hope and he’s helped create a worldwide phenomenon to fight his disease. It was a really important and moving thing for our students to see.”

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