DES MOINES, Iowa -- It was a social media challenge that took the internet by storm. People across the state and country dumped buckets of ice water over their heads to raise awareness about an incurable disease.
In 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raised enough money to triple the amount of year funding for national ALS research. As a result, last year the FDA approved ALS treatment in the U.S. for the first time in more than 20 years.
"The discoveries that we've made from gene discovery to new treatments and potential new treatments has made for a really exciting time in the fight for ALS and our greatest time for hope," says Iowa ALS Association executive director Josh Nuss.
In Iowa, Nuss says the challenge raised $350,000 in 2014. The money is still being used to help expand programs and resources across the state.
"We were able to fund ALS clinics throughout the state and increase our equipment loan program," he says.
ALS is a rare nervous system disease that slowly weakens muscle and physical movement. Jerry Miller was diagnosed with the disease 10 years ago, when doctors said they expected him to live for two to five years. Right now, there is no cure for the disease, but Miller is hopeful for a medical breakthrough.
"It feels like your limbs getting heavier. Trying to pick my feet up off the floor is tough," he says. "Hopefully they can make a medicine that attacks the gene that causes ALS."
Miller says he's thankful for the crowdfunding efforts of strangers to help him fight his uphill battle.
"If you don't have hope, you don't have anything."
The cause of ALS is still unknown, and the majority of cases are said to be brought on sporadically. However, the disease is considered a "service connected disease." Experts says veterans are twice as more likely to suffer from ALS.