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The Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS continues to get national attention – and the UCF College of Medicine and one of its UCF Pegasus Health physicians are part of the fundraising effort.

On August 21, the College of Medicine’s new Internal Medicine residents – led by Dr. Abdo Asmar, a UCF Pegasus Health nephrologist and associate director of the residency program — doused themselves with ice water on the medical school’s Tavistock Green. They issued an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to College of Medicine Dean Deborah German, Internal Medicine Chair Dr. Edward Ross and the entire UCF medical school.

This is the first year of UCF’s residency program, done in partnership with the Orlando VA Medical Center and Osceola Regional Medical Center. The new program is designed to increase the number of primary care doctors in the community.

“It is fitting that our new residents, who are so committed to patient care, took the challenge to raise awareness of ALS and raise money for a cure,” said Dr. Asmar, formerly chief resident at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, one of the nation’s largest hospitals. He noted the devastating impact amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, more commonly called Lou Gehrig’s disease, has on patients and their families. Patients in the later stages of the neurodegenerative disease are totally paralyzed, yet in most cases their minds remain sharp and alert.

Dr. Aida Sanchez-Jimenez, chief medical officer at Osceola Regional, who serves as site director of graduate medical education, also participated in the challenge. “This is a way to create awareness of this disease and also create community awareness about our first class of residents,” she said. “And it’s just plain fun.”

Dr. German and the medical school accepted the residents’ challenge and held an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge WAVE of more than 100 faculty, staff and students on August. 22. Before dousing herself with water, Dr. German challenged every medical school dean in the United States and every dean at UCF to do the same.

To date, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised about $90 million.

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