On Sunday night evangelist and megachurch pastor Greg Laurie joined the ranks of people who have accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Standing at home plate of Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, and having just preached about the hope of heaven to a crowd of 47,000 people, he was doused with an orange Igloo cooler full of ice water.
The fun soaking came on the final night of his three-day "2014 SoCal Harvest" and only after the altar call, which saw thousands of people stream from the stands to the outfield grass in response to Laurie's challenge for them to accept Jesus Christ as savior.
The ALS Ice Water Challenge, which has gained popularity across the nation and raised millions of dollars to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig's disease) in recent months, requires that a person dump a bucket of ice water over his or her head or donate $100 to the ALS Association. After being drenched with ice water, the person then challenges three other people to do the same thing and posts the event on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or another social-media outlet. Laurie accepted the ice bath and donated $100.
"This is a fun thing to do, but this is a serious disease," Laurie said, as the moment was streamed live around the world and posted on Twitter. "As a matter of fact, my own aunt died from it. So I hope anything I can do to draw attention to it will be helpful to fight this dreaded disease."
Laurie then challenged Texas pastor Jack Graham, Chicago pastor James MacDonald and musician Chris Tomlin to also participate in support of ALS. Graham was present and accepted on the spot. After having a tub of ice water dumped on him at home plate, Graham in turn challenged Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle, Los Angeles Angels baseball player Josh Hamilton and Arizona State football coach Todd Graham.
Tomlin was on stage at Harvest leading worship and, as do the others, he has 24 hours to respond.
Harvest Crusade emcee Levi Lusko started the string of challenges. He accepted a challenge from Austin Thompson on Saturday night, also getting doused with ice water at home plate. Lusko in turn challenged Laurie, musician Phil Wickham and musician Sonny Sandoval of the group POD. Wickham was on stage singing Saturday night. He accepted the challenged and had his soaking on Sunday afternoon at the stadium. Sandoval had led the opening prayer on Saturday. There was no word as to whether he accepted, but it was likely that he did.
The New York Times estimates that 30,000 people have the disease, which affects nerve cells to the brain. With the Ice Bucket Challenge spreading, the ALS Association has received $13.3 million in donations since July 29, up from $1.7 million during the same time period in 2013, the Times reports.