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10th Annual ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Draws A Crowd At Empire City

Aug 21, 2023

YONKERS, NY — A decade later and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is bigger than ever and the milestone was fittingly celebrated right here in Westhchester where it all began.

The 10th Annual ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was held this weekend at Empire City Casino's 124-year-old historic Yonkers Raceway. Hundreds of participants of all ages and a few VIPs turned out to face the challenge of cold ice on a hot summer day.

Family, friends and neighbors who are currently battling or of those who have lost the battle to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) gathered in mass to mark the occasion.

The day's event was organized by Patrick Quinn Sr., father of the late Yonkers native and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pat Quinn, who now leads the ALS advocacy nonprofit organization founded by his son, "Quinn for the Win - Find Your Smile Foundation."

The annual event has become a tradition at the casino, drawing local and state elected officials each year. This year, the list of elected officials included City of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, New York State Senator Shelley Mayer, New York State Assembly Members Gary Pretlow and Nader Sayegh, Westchester County Board of Legislator James Nolan, Yonkers City Council Members Lakisha Collins-Bellamy, Tasha Diaz, John Rubbo and Anthony Merante, and City of Mount Vernon Council Member Cathlin Gleason.

The event is held the first week of August every year because at the first event, Quinn committed to holding the event "Every August Until A Cure." In Yonkers, the community is honoring those words and continuing the original mission of the event to raise awareness of ALS and the need for research funding to help find a cure.

While the mood was light and there was plenty to love about seeing local politicians sacked in ice, a somber side of the fundraiser was on display as well. The ALS patients who participated in the event in its early years, but have since lost their battle were recalled. Their photos were placed along the fence in remembrance.

"We all continue to be moved by Pat Quinn’s spirit," Mayor Spano said. "His determination brings us back every year. We will continue to support the Quinn for the Win-Find Your Smile Foundation and the ALS Association and will return to Empire City Casino for the Ice Bucket Challenge every August until a cure."

The annual event, co-founded by Quinn after his diagnosis of ALS in 2013, became a global phenomenon on social media in 2014. ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Though Quinn passed away from ALS in November 2020, the Ice Bucket Challenge has remained a catalyst to finding a cure for ALS, with Quinn helping to inspire billions of dollars in donations for ALS research, which has led to expanded research and significant discoveries.

"I am always amazed by the community’s dedication to finishing our mission of finding a cure," Patrick Quinn, Sr. said. "I am so thankful to all of you for always showing up. We will continue to fight to make ALS a disease you can live with, and not one that diagnosed patients will die from."

Quinn founded a nonprofit organization that supports patients impacted by ALS by providing cash grants to offset expenses not covered by medical insurance, including wheelchair adjustments and home renovations. Leading the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge once again this year was Quinn’s father, Patrick Quinn Sr., who continues to pay tribute to his son, and reiterated his determination to continue his son’s mission to provide support for ALS patients and their families, and to hold the ice bucket challenge every year to ensure the need for a cure remains top of mind.

Empire City has partnered with Yonkers since 2015 to host the annual challenge (except in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic) in support of Pat Quinn and the hundreds of thousands of ALS patients worldwide. Each year, Empire City donates the space, set-up, and staffing costs, as well as over 1,300 pounds of ice. The City of Yonkers donates the ice buckets and the stage for the event, along with organizing the online registration for participants.

"We are honored to host the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge each year," Taryn Duffy, Empire City Casino by MGM Resorts VP of Public Affairs, said. "This is a cause very near and dear to our hearts and we will continue to work alongside our community to raise awareness about this deadly disease and the importance of research funding, all with the hope of one day finding a cure."

Find out more information on the Quinn for the Win website.

Jeff Edwards