Regent takes ice bucket challenge with pro-life twist

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — Administrators and faculty members at Regent University participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge Thursday, but with a pro-life twist.

The challenge calls on people to post videos on social media of themselves dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads and challenging others to do the same within 24 hours or donate $100 to the ALS Association. Many people do both.

But as recently as this week, a number of pro-life supporters have begun directing their donations away from the ALS Association because of the group’s funding of embryonic stem cell research. On Thursday, Regent University joined that group.

“Many of us at Regent University have seen first-hand the devastation of ALS and what it does to families, friends and our alumni,” said Executive Vice President of Regent University Paul Bonicelli in a video released to “And so we wanted to make a generous donation to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. This is an institute that focuses on a pro-life research foundation, and it fits our values.”

The John Paul II Medical Research Institute in Iowa City, Iowa conducts “pro-life driven” research, according to its website.

Carrie Munk, a spokeswoman for the ALS Association, said her group largely funds adult stem cell research, but does fund one study involving embryonic stem cells, using money from one specific donor. She said all donors to the ALS Association can stipulate where their money goes and can ask that it not pay for embryonic stem cell research.

In the video, Bonicelli and more than 100 others complete the ice bucket challenge, “on behalf of the university’s graduate deans and college of arts and sciences.”

He and Dean of Regent Law School Jeff Brauch challenged Dave Douglas, dean of William and Mary Law School, David Buckingham, vice president of student affairs at Virginia Wesleyan College, and Pat McCarty, head of Norfolk Christian Schools.

Only time will tell if others in the Hampton Roads christian education community will take the challenge or what organization they may donate to. But what is known is that the ice bucket challenge is bringing awareness and money to ALS research.

So far, the dare sweeping the nation has raised nearly $42 million to support research into Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The disease attacks nerve cells and can lead to complete paralysis and death.

To learn more about ALS, click here.

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