by MICHELLE WOO
For those who haven’t checked their Facebook feeds all summer, the Ice Bucket Challenge involves dumping a bucket of ice water on one’s head and posting a video on social media as a way to generate awareness and funds for ALS research. It sounds weird because it is, but it supports a good cause so … shiver away! (For now, we’ll just donate from our dry computers, thanks.)
Several South Korean celebs have gotten in on the action—Jinusean’s Sean, Brian Joo and U-KISS’ Kevin, to name a few. But the most powerful video comes from Park Seung-il, who took the challenge from his hospital bed. In 2002, at the age of 31, the prominent basketball coach was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), the official name for Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was rendered almost completely immobile except for his eyes, eyelids, the third finger on his right hand and some of muscles in his face.
From a 2005 JoongAng Ilbo story on Park:
His prayers are short and direct: “At least leave me the strength to move my eyelids and pupils.”
Mr. Park used a special device called an “eye mouse, “which reads his eye movements to write on a computer, to send 40 e-mail messages to the JoongAng Ilbo from July through October.
It takes Mr. Park forty times longer to write with the eye mouse than it would by hand. A simple email takes three hours to write. “My eyes are bloodshot and crying, but I have to write,” he wrote in one message.
Mr. Park described how a mosquito would land on his arm. He could feel a tingling sensation as the insect begins drawing blood, but he can’t swat it away or even move his arm. He feels everything perfectly, however – perhaps too perfectly.
“I’m living in hell, “ he tells himself.
Mr. Park’s world is restricted to the same bed and same room, everyday, all day long. He has a television and computer, a dressing table, an aquarium and a plant to look at. He writes messages everyday on his Web site to appeal to his fans to help Lou Gehrig patients.
He sent emails to the JoongAng Ilbo to “let the public know of the state of Lou Gehrig patients by using the media.” But beyond that goal is the need to communicate; without communication, he wrote, he would no longer be human.
Park was nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge by Super Junior’s Siwon. Through a narrator, he thanks everyone for their participation in the campaign for ALS awareness, and then takes the challenge himself. Just watch!
For more information on ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge, visit the ALS Association.