Thursday January 01, 1970
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge reached new levels Friday, August 22, as dozens lined up at the Moose Lodge in South Burlington in warm support of friend and neighbor Frank Petrosino, on the one year anniversary of his passing.
Awareness of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrigs disease has reached unparalleled heights in a recent surge of fundraising efforts, propelled by challenges made through social media. Throughout the country, co-workers, friends and family members challenge each other to either donate $100 to the cause, or dowse themselves with a bucket of ice water. Then, each person accepting the challenge nominates three others to do the same. Most participants donate to the cause in addition to undertaking the chilly drenching. The fundraising numbers have risen exponentially, with unexpected results. As of Monday, August 25, The ALS Association has received $79.7 million in donations compared to $2.5 million during the same time period last year, in the hope of finding a cure for the progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.
More than forty friends and neighbors took their place in line with Frank’s wife, Heidi Smith, and sons Talon and Tristan as the S.D. Ireland truck dumped 400 gallons of icy water on the waiting crowd. Talon’s team mates from South Burlington High School were also there to show their support. Smith reflected on the outpouring of support.
“I just want to thank everyone for their support on Friday and over the last four years. Our ALS experience has been a tremendous journey that was difficult, but through it all we were surrounded by love from families, friends and even strangers. We are very lucky to have such incredible people in our lives. Frank believed strongly in being an advocate for those with ALS. I know that he is very pleased with all the awareness and fund raising the ice bucket challenge has brought. We will find the cause and cure for this horrific disease and each and everyone of us are a part of it! Huzzah for Frank! “ she said.
Huzzah for Frank
Friend and neighbor Dan Companion organized the event in Petrosino’s honor. He shared his thoughts:
“Our family met Frank & Heidi [Smith] as neighbors while we lived on the corner of Simpson Court and O’Brien Drive. We couldn’t have asked for two more complementary individuals to a great neighborhood; however, there was much more to be revealed about this amazing couple. Frank and Heidi always loved kids and our kids were huge beneficiaries of this couple’s love and exuberance for every day life. Frank’s devotion to medieval times was always a huge hit with the kids. My kids distinctly remember attempting to battle ‘Frank the Warrior’; he would entertain them for hours. [Huzzah is a medieval term, defined as a shout of acclaim]
The birth of ‘Super Frank’, as we nicknamed him, occurred from the simple act of Frank’s normal routine to walk to work in the morning. Frank would walk to the top of Simpson Court to catch the CCTA bus, wearing a suit and overcoat. As he briskly walked out of his house and continued his route past our house’s bay window, he would suddenly go from a brisk walk into a jog as he passed our house and then suddenly vanish up the street like Clark Kent transforming into Superman. It quickly became a morning routine to watch the now legendary Super Frank do his transformation. In many ways, he truly was our neighborhood version of Super man.
Last year, my son Adam, now 18, and I attended Frank’s funeral and it struck me how truly difficult it is to explain such a loss to your child. Frank was as vibrant a human being that one can be, yet this horrible disease took his life in a way that can only be described as brutal. Adam and I, father and son, experienced this difficult moment together and it was the strength of Super Frank again that helped us get through this special moment together; asking the normal questions and trying to understand what life is really about and why we are here. As we left I took the memorial card with Frank’s prayer, folded it and placed it in my wallet as a token of this special day.
Twelve months passed by and suddenly this amazing phenomenon called, “The Ice Bucket Challenge” had suddenly gone viral and as I reached into my wallet I found the card I placed there twelve months earlier; it was a calling for me to do this unique event in memory of Frank and to support Heidi’s Spartan race. I asked my fellow board members at the Burlington Moose Lodge#1618 if they would support such an event and their arms were wide open. My great friend Greg Stine suggested we do it big and see if S.D. Ireland would possibly lend us a truck for the event, and David Cyr stepped up immediately offering the use of their truck.
Life offers us lessons in the smallest of ways, it is truly amazing to see how quickly the community has acted on this event and I am truly thankful to be lucky enough to live here every day, with such amazing and wonderful people who truly care about each other.
Huzzah Frank, your spirit is still that of a super hero and I am glad I was lucky enough to have been part of your life journey in a small way. Heidi has shown us an amazing strength, and what true love and dedication can do for a cause.”
If you’d like to help make a difference in the lives of those affected by Lou Gehrig’s Disease, donations can be made directly to the ALS Association of Northern New England Spartan Racers to Conquer ALS event, through the Huzzah for Frank VT team, lead for the fourth year by Heidi Smith. Go to:
The Spartan Race Beast takes place on September 20 and 21, 2014 at Killington Ski Resort.