Whitman raises ALS awareness

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Fifth grade teacher Lance Tuula is doused in water for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by the students in his class who raised the most money for the fundraiser. Brooke Mason raised $99 while Michael Erikson and Bella Pierson both raised $20.

ROCKTON — Whitman Post Elementary students are a little chilled after participating in the ALS Ice Bucket challenge to raise awareness and research funds for Lou Gehrig’s Disease on Friday.

This is Whitman Post’s second year participating in the fundraiser after former teacher Kris Grahnke was diagnosed with the disease in 2014.

“It’s incredible,” Grahnke said. “I joke with them all the time that I have an army of minions.”

He said it’s awesome that there are hundreds of students who are willing to bring in their piggy banks and raise money to help. He also said the event makes him forget about the situation he’s in.

Grahnke decided not to return to his position with the school this year, he said.

Though he still has the mental capacity to teach, he said he decided not to return because he isn’t sure he’ll be able to finish the year, but comes in to help once a week.

The funds students raise will go toward Gronk’s Grace, a team hoping to raise $30,000 for an ALS walk Sept. 24.

All the money will ultimately go to the ALS Foundation.

Event organizers set up incentives to motivate the kids to raise money, although special education teacher Allison Rhyner said they don’t really need it.

Some of the incentives include an ice cream party, T-shirts, and pouring water on teachers, the principal and the superintendent.

“It’s crazy in the first couple weeks of school but it’s worth it,” Rhyner said.

The school raised about $2,700 last year and more than 450 students participated.

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