There’s a new meme taking hold – Ice Bucket Challenges to raise money for the fight against Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the famous baseball player whose life was tragically ended by the gruesome motor neuron destroyer.

Tuesday at work, the Executive Command Team (the Chief of Police and his two Deputies) and most of the senior officers (of which I am one, but I chickened out – I hate the cold) accepted the Chief’s son’s challenge to take the icy dunk and collect donations for ALS research. The front entrance was filled with people. Ah, the power of peer pressure and side bets.

Then again, York Regional Police (YRP) is an amazing place to work. Not long ago, our Bureau (Staff Services) rallied and raised $4000 in a few weeks. A small group of volunteers put on bake sales and raffles to cover the cost of one month’s treatment for a colleague who had to travel to BC for a specialized neurological intervention to halt the disease that was taking away his power of movement. I’ve learned though a myriad of other examples that YRP folks care about their community; they also jump in to take care of their own. I’m proud to be one of them.

Before the big event, it was all chuckles and kibitzing. Luckily for the hardy ‘white shirts’, it was a warm sunny day.  The President of the Police Association got the chance to through a big bucket of stuff onto the Chief’s head. The ice was melting fast. How bad could it be?before

What they hadn’t counted on was the huge York Central Fire truck straddling half a dozen visitors’ spots in front of Headquarters. A couple of the young pregnant women in the audience were fanning themselves, half-joking about delivering in the parking lot and requiring immediate first aid. High in the air, perched on the bucket of a sky-high extension ladder was a smoke-eater (fireman) in full bunker suit accompanied by a photographer. The hose affixed between them was really impressive in girth – it truly was a water cannon.


The red bug of our YRP helicopter circled overhead, adding to the excitement with its rhythmic thwack-thwack-thwack. The in-house photographers and a CTV videographer angled closer for the money shot. There were probably a hundred employees lining the parking lot.We common folks were poised out of water-splash way clutching our smartphones.

After the 3-2-1 countdown, a slew of laughing volunteers emptied small plastic green buckets over the heads of the Command staff. Luckily they’d all removed their firearms and electronic equipment, but they forgot how soaked shiny leather shoes could get. Then the fire truck compressor rumbled and the cannon let loose. I’ve never seen so much water burst out in such a short time. This was a monster deluge and not a gentle rain shower.

The parking lot was awash in no time. Despite the fact that were 10 meters out of range all of us in our work duds with fancy sandals got soaked.

All for a good cause.

Most of us know someone who had been affected by the disease. The former chief of police of the Peterborough-Lakefield police service – a friend of mine – was felled by ALS about 10 years ago. Those of us who knew him felt so helpless. Hopefully there’ll be a new push for research that can make a difference. Nice to see a previously unheralded charity getting some well deserved attention.