Announcements | 08.16.2023

9th Annual ALS Ice Bucket

They came with buckets. They came with ice. They came with a mission. NWN Carousel team members from offices around the U.S. mobilized on a beautiful summer day at steps of  the Massachusetts Statehouse on August 9, 2023 to celebrate the 9th Annual Ice Bucket Challenge to strike out ALS. NWN Carousel partnered with the family of Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pete Frates to raise money and awareness for the deadly disease and to also urge state lawmakers to better protect all those with disabilities and their caregivers by granting them the right to continue to work from home following the Commonwealth’s declaration of the end of the COVID-19 state of emergency.

August is Ice Bucket Challenge month in Massachusetts. Former Boston College baseball captain Pete Frates is known around the world as the co-creator of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which has raised more than $220 million to fund research for an ALS cure. Frates lost his own lengthy battle with the disease in 2019. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects a person’s motor function and muscle movement. His wife Julie addressed the large crowd and offered her perspective about the necessity of working from home.

“I remember how difficult it was for our family to care for my husband without the flexibility of working from home. Working from home for employees with caregiving responsibilities allows a much better quality of life for themselves and their families. The life of a caregiver is often a demanding one, which could be made just a little less stressful by allowing these employees to work from their homes near their loved ones,” Julie Frates said. “Having been a caregiver to a spouse for nearly 10 years, I cannot imagine how I would have managed my husband’s care while working outside my home. Not only would my mental health be compromised but most certainly the level of care my husband received would’ve diminished. Not only that, I can only imagine how much less productive I would’ve been at my job if I were required to be away from my husband for an entire work day, rather than only a room away. Whether it be taking care of a child or sick relative, employees need the flexibility from employers to allow them to work from home. This is not a question of work place preference but truly a matter of quality of life for many families.” 

Following Julie Frates’ remarks, NWN Carousel Chief Marketing Officer Andrew Gilman thanked the Frates family and urged others to do more to allow those with disabilities and their caregivers to compete professionally in the workplace on a level playing field.   

“Their story is an inspiration, reminding us that caregivers play a pivotal role in the lives of those battling ALS and other disabilities,” Andrew Gilman said. “They deserve our respect, support, and recognition for their commitment. Together, we must protect the rights of caregivers, ensuring they have access to the resources they need to balance their responsibilities without compromising their career ambitions and dreams. I personally applaud the efforts of the Healy Administration by recognizing Disability Awareness Month and by creating the new role of chief information technology accessibility officer for the commonwealth. But we must continue to go further and update our antiquated laws around accommodation, as organizations call workers back to the office. Now, let’s pivot to the power of technology, particularly cloud communications and Hybrid Work, and its potential to transform the lives of individuals with disabilities, providing equitable work opportunities for everyone. Hybrid Work has revolutionized the way we connect, collaborate, and work, breaking down barriers and enabling a more inclusive and diverse workforce. At NWN Carousel, we strive to build an inclusive workplace that champions diversity and accommodates the needs of all employees, ensuring they can thrive both personally and professionally. For those with disabilities, I’ve seen first-hand the power of cloud platforms to level the playing field, offering flexibility and accessibility that traditional work environments may not provide. By leveraging cloud communications, individuals and their caretakers can work from anywhere more effectively and efficiently, maintaining a fulfilling career. So, my fellow participants, employees, and everyone pouring ice water on their heads today, let us unite in our commitment to advancing the rights of caregivers and empowering individuals with disabilities through the transformational power of technology. It’s time to update the antiquated American Disability Act and other laws. Together, we can create a world where no caregiver is burdened by a lack of support, and where individuals with disabilities are empowered to pursue their passions and careers with the same opportunities as anyone else. Let this Ice Bucket Challenge serve as a symbol of our determination to bring about positive change in the lives of those affected by ALS and disabilities.” 

NWN Carousel presented the Frates family with a donation before Julie Frates counted the participants down 5-4-3-2-1. Pete’s parents’ John and Nancy Frates and his young daughter Lucy stood arm and arm together with NWN staff members along with more than a dozen other volunteers including Boston Red Sox mascot, Wally The Green Monster and Boston College’s mascot, Baldwin the Bald Eagle, to dump buckets of ice water over their heads with a collective Splash that echoed through the statehouse and across the Boston Common as television cameras and news photographers captured the truly special moment for all involved.   

Please join us for the entire month of August as we continue to celebrate and honor Pete Frates and the Ice Bucket Challenge. Send us your own Ice Bucket Challenge videos or you can donate to the Pete Frates Foundation at petefrates.com.

As we gather to commemorate Ice Bucket Challenge Month and celebrate the legacy of my late husband, Ice Bucket Challenge co-founder Pete Frates, we will continue to fight for a cure for ALS while also working to protect the rights of patients and their caregivers.

Since the COVID-19 public health emergency officially ended in May, many companies are trying to force march their employees back to the office. I remember how difficult it was for our family to care for my husband without the flexibility of working from home. 

Working from home for employees with caregiving responsibilities allows a much better quality of life for themselves and their families. The life of a caregiver is often a demanding one, which could be made just a little less stressful by allowing these employees to work from their homes near their loved ones. 

Having been a caregiver to a spouse for nearly 10 years, I cannot imagine how I would have managed my husband’s care while working outside my home. Not only would my mental health be compromised but most certainly the level of care my husband received would’ve diminished. 

Not only that, I can only imagine how much less productive I would’ve been at my job if I were required to be away from my husband for an entire work day, rather than only a room away. 

Whether it be taking care of a child or sick relative, employees need the flexibility from employers to allow them to work from home. This is not a question of work place preference but truly a matter of quality of life for many families. 

The added time that would be given to employees who would not need to commute, as well as the physical proximity to those they care for, should not be seen as a perk but rather a necessity. 

This year, as we douse ourselves with ice water, let’s expand the mission and create greater awareness not only for ALS patients and their families, but for all disabled people and those who work tirelessly on their behalf.