By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
Like many of you who attended the Meet the Greyhounds community pep rally on Thursday, I too was surprised to see something I thought would never happen again – the San Benito CISD Board of Trustees successfully working together.
Trustees made the purple and gold faithful in attendance cheer when the board members collectively accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. For those who didn’t attend, we have a great photo capturing the priceless moment that’s prominently featured on the front page of this weekend’s edition. Because honestly, what’s bigger news in San Benito than seeing the folks who’ve long been under fire cooled off?
In all seriousness though, kudos to the trustees – Board President Arnold Padilla, Vice President Hector G. Leal, Secretary Oscar Medrano, and trustees Anna Cruz, Yliana González, Fatima Huerta and Angel Mendez – for taking on a worthy cause. ALS hit close to home earlier this year when a dear friend’s family lost a loved one to Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Sure, there’s an opportunistic element to the Board’s icing, especially since it served as good publicity (I’m writing favorably of the challenge, after all) during an otherwise tumultuous time for the school district. Still, it speaks volumes about the trustees putting aside their differences for a good cause and at the risk of public humiliation (have you seen some of those failed challenges?) if something were to go wrong. Understand that at this time last year, there was little the trustees did in a unified effort that actually brought smiles to their faces.
They even locked arms.
I’m also pleased to see videos of similar sights fill my Twitter and Facebook news feeds – this as opposed to the mean-spirited remarks from people whose only contribution to the cause has been to criticize and mock these efforts. Sure, there are plenty of goofy videos out there from folks who know little about ALS, let alone its devastating effects on the human body or its known links to the sports world. But why condemn an admirable effort that has proven to be an effective fundraising tool based solely on the fact that it’s gone viral?
Consider this: On Friday, USA Today reported that the Ice Bucket Challenge has, since July 29, helped the ALS Association raise $41.8 million compared to just $2.1 million during the same time last year. When coupled with the association receiving nearly 740,000 new donors, according to USA Today, the challenge appears to have some legitimacy behind it. This is money that will go toward research, support and aid for people suffering from ALS as well as their families.
If you remain unconvinced of the challenge’s positive impact, consider Joseph Garza, a 14-year-old Brownsville resident who’s living with the incurable disease. It’s a rather cruel fate for a boy to suffer – to lose all motor functions yet be 100 percent aware of his condition with no ability to communicate… save for maybe eye movement. If not for the challenge, would there have been awareness raised for Joseph? Would we have known that a young man from our little corner of the world contracted ALS? Would many of you even know what ALS is if not for all the hoopla?
I’ve also read many accounts about how the widespread awareness is considered just as valuable, if not more so than monetary donations.
So again, my hats off to the Board for getting involved. If the day should come that I’m challenged, I’d happily accept and would not hesitate to issue a challenge of my own. I’ve already thought of one friend, one colleague and, of course, Mayor Celeste Sanchez and San Benito City Commissioners Tony Gonzales, Joe D. Gonzalez, JD Penny and Rene Villafranco. After all, I believe our elected officials should always be in a position to set an example for their constituents to follow.