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Benton vets to hold Ice Bucket Challenge

  • Roxanne Price (right) with her father, Larry Mabry, tearfully recalls her mother's struggle with ALS last year.  Donna Mabry died last August, just eight months after her diagnosis.

    Roxanne Price (right) with her father, Larry Mabry, tearfully recalls her mother's struggle with ALS last year. Donna Mabry died last August, just eight months after her diagnosis.
    Holly Kee photo

updated: 7/12/2018 12:44 PM

Every 90 minutes someone in the United States is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as "Lou Gehrig's disease," a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

That statistic hit home for one Franklin County family last year.

"My mom was diagnosed in December (2016)," said Roxanne Price.

While most people live from two to five years with the disease, which is always fatal, Price's mom, Donna Mabry, died just eight months after the diagnosis.

"She was only 70," said Price.

Price and her father, Larry Mabry, cared for Donna at home, with hospice help during the last 11 days.

According to Price, her mother was in the 20 percent of ALS patients who also suffered from frontal temporal dementia.

"That shortens the life expectancy," she said.

Mabry said his wife's doctor, Michael Lawler, had never had a patient with ALS.

According to the ALS Foundation, around 20,000 Americans have the disease at any given time, and many may suffer symptoms and not even know they have the disease.

The foundation started the "ice bucket challenge" in 2014 to raise awareness and funding to help find a cure for the disease.

"They also help the families," said Price. "They were there for us to help with anything we needed for my mom."

For Gary Fravel, commander of the Benton Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2671, Donna's death "made it personal."

"She was a good lady," he said. "She was my friend."

Fravel began researching facts about ALS and one thing stuck out to him.

"It (ALS) affect veterans at a much higher rate than the general population," he said.

According to the ALS Foundation, military veterans are twice as likely to develop the disease as the general population.

"From the research I read, they suspect it's a combination of chemicals we were exposed to, the combination of shots we were given that the general population doesn't get, and the general stress the military puts its people under," said Fravel.

Gulf War vets, including Fravel, are at twice the risk.

"I have a vested interest in this," said Fravel.

Fravel, Donna's family and John Metzger, commander of Benton's American Legion Post 280, have teamed up to host the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The event will take place at the Benton American Legion/VFW on Aug. 4 beginning at 1 p.m.

"It's a threefold thing," said Fravel. "It's a fundraiser to help the ALS Foundation, an informational program, and a memorial to those that have suffered and passed."

Representatives from the ALS Foundation in St. Louis will be on hand with information. Price's husband, Clint, has donated food, and then there is the Ice Bucket Challenge.

"For a $50 donation, you or a nominee can get dunked by a tractor full of ice water," said Fravel.

Metzger said they are hoping to have some "VIP figures" at the event.

"Dave Severin is coming," he said. Fravel added that Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) or a representative will also be in attendanc,e and invitations have been issued to Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

For more information or to participate in the challenge, visit or contact Fravel at 618-923-2710.

Editor's Note: The Benton News has accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and passed along the challenge to state Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg.