Professor dedicates ice bucket challenge to students’ father


Blake Lanser/Iowa State Daily

Gloria Starns, senior lecturer of mechanical engineering, accepts her ice bucket challenge that her friend issued. Starns dedicated her challenge to two students’ father who died because of ALS.

Emily Barske

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that has captured the nation’s attention made its way to Iowa State again. Gloria Starns, senior lecturer of mechanical engineering, dedicated her challenge to the deceased father of two former students.

“Two of my former students’ father was a victim of ALS,” Starns said. “I’ll be dedicating this challenge and the money I’m giving to ALS to him.”

The ice bucket challenge is intended to raise awareness and funds for the disease. The challenge, consisting of dumping a bucket of ice over one’s head, is a fun way that people are alerting the nation about the situation of those with ALS.

ISU alumni Michael and Michelle Allen know the disease first hand. After much discrepancy on a diagnosis, Gary Allen, their father, was diagnosed with ALS in September 2010. The disease moved rapidly. In May 2011, he died.

“My husband loved to be with people,” said Diane Allen, Gary’s wife. “He did things for people. In the end, he couldn’t even talk to people.”

The symptoms of ALS vary by victim. Some have a prolonged battle, while others like Gary succumb to ALS quickly. Unfortunately, no cure has been found for the fatal disease. After the diagnosis, doctors told Diane there was no hope for her husband.

There is no known cause for the disease, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is raising money to search for both the cause and the cure for ALS.

“What makes it so torturous is that the person is perfectly mentally healthy — they’re still there in spirit — but their body is failing them,” Starns said.  “I think it’s an ingenious idea. They have done a lot to bring awareness to the problem and the need for continued research.”

Diane says continued research and funding are essential to finding a cure for ALS.

“When you take the ice bucket challenge, donate too,” Diane said. “It’s kind of a fun thing, but if you don’t donate, at least find out what this disease does because it is a very horrible disease. It takes a person’s life and turns it inside out.”

To find out more about ALS and the ice bucket challenge, visit