Bucksport woman’s extreme ALS Ice Bucket Challenge brings in more than $1,600

Posted Aug. 23, 2014, at 6:59 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 23, 2014, at 7:52 a.m.

It’s one thing to dump a single bucket of water on your head and donate. It’s another to dump more than 160 buckets of ice water on your head. But Bucksport resident Heidi Klenowski wanted to take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to the extreme, and she was able to do just that, thanks to donations from hundreds of friends and strangers.

The mother of two lost her father-in-law to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, about 10 years ago. ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease that causes patients to slowly lose the ability to move, speak and, eventually, breathe. It is not typically hereditary; however, in the Klenowskis’ case, it is, which means her husband has a 50/50 chance of being diagnosed.

Klenowski has long raised money for ALS research and awareness, but this challenge was her biggest effort to date. She raised more than $1,200 herself and received even more from the owner of Carrier’s Mainely Lobster in Bucksport, who placed a bucket out at the restaurant and offered anyone who donated at least $10 10 percent off their bill.

About a week before the event, an article about her efforts ran in the Bangor Daily News. Other news organizations followed with their own stories. Within days, she went from raising $450 to $1,200. On the day of the event, even more donations poured in.

Before the event, Klenowski promised she would dump one bucket for every $10 raised. Which meant Friday involved a lot of ice water — more than 160 buckets, in fact. But she was not about to complain.

“I’m very excited,” Klenowski said. “I had no idea it would get this big this fast.”

Because of the increased popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, fundraising has reached an all time high for the ALS Association, which, among other things, advocates for more research about the disease and potential cures.