Almost a year after Brian Poulos completed his personal 31-day Ice Bucket Challenge, the Commack resident is back at it again, kicking off another month of icy water on Sunday.
Poulos, 39, a New York State trooper, gained attention online last year, when he put his own spin on the popular social media challenge by dumping buckets of ice and water on his head at Long Island landmarks every day for the month of August in the name of ALS research. He ultimately raised more than $7,000 to honor his late father, Nick “Pa” Poulos, 71, who had the disease.
ALS, the neurodegenerative illness also known Lou Gehrig’s disease, slowly erodes a person’s control over their motor functions. There is no cure and the Ice Bucket Challenge started in 2014 as a way to raise awareness and research dollars.
This week, the ALS Association announced the campaign had done some good. About $1 million of the money raised went to a research project based at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Scientists there discovered a new gene, NEK1, with possible links to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
While the discovery doesn’t offer a specific cure, it does give hope to patients and researchers, the scientists said in a release.
“It gives hope to the patients who are still fighting ALS and that all the millions raised are going in the right direction,” Poulos said.
Poulos added that the discovery provided more encouragement as he prepares to spend another August sharing his daily icy soak on YouTube. ALS claimed Pa’s life in October, but Poulos said that doesn’t mean he’s going to stop raising awareness.
“I’m doing it again this year in his memory instead of in his honor,” Poulos said.
Last year’s videos featured Poulos at The Big Duck, Jones Beach and Citi Field in Queens. Poulos said he hasn’t worked out this year’s locations or celebrity guest appearances yet, but he is ready for his first Ice Bucket Challenge of 2016: an attempt to break the world record for the largest group of people doing the challenge simultaneously.
Poulos and friend Scott Segal, 40, of Hauppauge, came up with the idea for breaking that record in November. Media reports have included several attempts to set official and unofficial records since the challenge’s founding — more than 780 people in China, close to 300 in England, 495 in Central Park last August.
“We were talking about things he could do this coming August,” Segal said. “I just looked up the world record. I said, ‘Hey I have about 800 people in one place over the summer.’ ”
Segal, a teacher, spends his summers working as tennis director at the Tyler Hill Camp in Tyler Hill, Pennsylvania, which boasts about 800 campers, ages 7 to 16, and staff. With the camp directors’ blessing, Poulos and Segal have scheduled the ice bucket attempt for Sunday at 10 a.m.
“We’re going to have all the campers,” Poulos said. “Home Depot has delivered the buckets to camp.”
Segal added that a local store donated 2,000 pounds of ice and the campers are getting ready for their big day.
“The campers are really excited about it,” Segal said. “With the impact the ice bucket challenge has had, it’s incredible.”