Reznick, who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in the fall of 2013, walked out the back door of Davie Hall just after 4:30 p.m. to find about 50 fully-clothed professors and graduate students — a couple sporting lab goggles and one rocking a Hello Kitty scuba mask — all with buckets full of ice water.
Deborah Jones, a psychology professor who helped organize the event, told Reznick, “This one’s for you,” and the participants drenched themselves in unison.
Reznick said he felt joy and appreciation upon seeing the demonstration.
“I could not feel more supported — or, I say that and then I encounter something like this and I feel even more supported,” Reznick said.
Professors and students brought their own buckets and towels, while a machine in the behavioral neuroscience program provided the ice. The weather cooperated, as temperatures approached 90 degrees Wednesday afternoon. Jones said the idea for the demonstration came about two weeks ago.
“When we heard Steve had ALS, it was difficult to find out what we could do to be helpful,” Jones said.
Psychology professor Regina Carelli said Reznick is well known in the department.
“He’s been working here a long time, so we’re devastated,” she said.
Reznick, a UNC alumnus, returned to the University as a professor in 1998.
A mass email sent to members of the department advised participants to donate a minimum of $10 to research for the disease.
The ALS Association, a national nonprofit that raises money for research and care services, said Wednesday in a news release that the viral campaign has helped them raise $31.5 million since July 29, when the same time period during 2013 earned just $1.9 million in donations.
Online videos have come from many public fig u res, including UNC alumnus and Naismath Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Michael Jordan, who starred in a video published on YouTube Wednesday.
According to the association, as many as 30,000 Americans are living with ALS, which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
There is no cure for the disease, which damages and eventually destroys neurons in the brain that control muscle movement. The disease’s specific cause remains unknown.
Reznick said he was diagnosed in October and is undergoing treatment every few months at Duke ALS Clinic.
He is researching the disease with Kevin Guskiewicz, senior associate dean for the natural sciences, along with teaching a psychology class and advising graduate students this fall.
“I plan to continue teaching as long as I can talk,” he said,“and that could be for a long time.”