When the ALS ice bucket challenge went viral in the summer of 2014, Sheila Tynan, co-manager of the Richmond crew of Abreast in a Boat wanted to bring awareness to ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) and raise money for the research of this disease. She wanted to give the disease a human face, and she conscripted her breast cancer survivor team to action! She had them organize Richmond’s biggest ever Ice Bucket challenge to be held at Garry Point Park in Steveston. Over 150 people were there to see Sheila start the ball rolling by being dunked herself. Tamara Taggart was there with cameras from Global and CBC TV stations to record the moment. The AIAB team were all involved in volunteering for various duties, from filling buckets to serving hamburgers. It was a very fun event with a very serious purpose.
Sheila was diagnosed with ALS in the fall of 2011. She was a fit, healthy person after delivering mail for Canada Post in the Lower Mainland for 30 years when she noticed a twitch in her hand. She went to a doctor, who sent her to a neurologist. “I was diagnosed very quickly unlike many people I had heard about ALS, but not in great detail. But I certainly do now,” said Sheila.
She was given a de facto death sentence with the ALS diagnosis. The disease rapidly deteriorates a person’s neuromuscular system. Senses become impaired, muscles degenerate and eventually paralysis sets in. There is no effective treatment or cure to date. Most people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis.
Sheila and her Abreast in a Boat team raised over $4000 for ALS BC at their Ice Bucket Challenge.