OPRF baseball to take ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Coach calling on all current, former ballplayers to take part in charity event dedicated to OPRF grad Sarah Coglianese

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By Brad Spencer

Contributing Columnist

The buckets will be pouring, there will no doubt be people shivering, and the varsity baseball field will be saturated in cold water as the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge reaches the OPRF Baseball program this weekend.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a charitable campaign raising awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig's disease where people video themselves being doused in ice water and challenge others to do the same, is considered one of the most viral campaigns in history. The fundraising effort has been a boon for the ALS Therapy Development Institute.  

 "We are seeing 10 times the number of online donations every day," Carol Hamilton, development director of the ALS Therapy Development Institute, told the Boston Herald earlier this month. "We are seeing an incredible number of people who didn't know much about ALS last week and who do today."

When OPRF head baseball coach Chris Ledbetter was challenged to take the ice cold drenching by Dr. Kevin Skinkis, superintendent at Riverside Brookfield High School, and Jon Kirsch, an assistant basketball coach at OPRF, he decided not to go it alone.

Ledbetter will have his entire baseball program taking the challenge this Sunday, Aug. 24th at 4 p.m. on the varsity baseball field at OPRF. He's also asking for all OPRF baseball alumni to join in on the frigid downpour.      

Ledbetter said he's dedicating the challenge to OPRF High School alum Sarah Coglianese, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012 at the age of 33.    

"I wanted to get my program involved because Sarah's two brothers played baseball at OPRF, and we're hoping to draw attention to her fight against ALS and get people to donate to her cause," Ledbetter added. "They are a wonderful family who deserve the support of the community."

Sarah, a writer who now resides in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband Rob and daughter Scarlett, keeps a blog of her battle with the disease at Speed4Sarah.com. A recent post about the viral ice bucket videos included this excerpt: "The videos are amazing. My family, my friends, people I haven't seen since high school, are saying the kindest things and then dousing themselves. It's beautiful. It's hilarious. And it's working. There has been major news coverage of the ice bucket challenge, and hundreds of thousands of dollars raised."

Sarah's brothers, Mike and Paul Coglianese, played baseball for OPRF in the late 1990s and early 2000s, respectively. Her father Joe is a retired teacher who taught for many years in the Oak Park Elementary School system.      

Ledbetter said he's asked OPRF student Cosmo Coffey, who last year produced a well-received documentary of the OPRF football team called Grit, to film Sunday's event.


Contact: Bspencer@oakpark.com

Email: bspencer@oakpark.com Twitter: OakParkSports

Reader Comments

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Winter Skye from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: August 25th, 2014 11:44 AM

There is a video going around by a man who says that only 8% of all donations actually go to research for ALS. 10% goes to salaries and around 18% for more fund-raising. God only knows where the other 64% goes! In any case, I call ALL these types of things scams because it's always promising "research," when it's really more more to Big Pharma. Drugs will NEVER heal your body! At best they can temporarily mask pain but ALS can be helped with a plant-based diet.

Paul Rubio from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: August 20th, 2014 5:41 PM

This certainly is a fun way to raise money to find a cure for this terrible disease. But I must mention that the ALS Association supports and conducts embryonic stem cell research as part of its efforts to find a cure. It concerns me that human embryos are destroyed to find a cure. Let's push to find more ethically sound ways to support life at all stages.

Sarah Coglianese from San Francisco  

Posted: August 20th, 2014 2:06 PM

Thanks, Brad, for this great piece and a HUGE thank you to Chris Ledbetter and the entire OPRF baseball program. It's been awesome to see so much support coming out of Oak Park and River Forest--but not at all surprising.

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