Ready for the Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge?

Get drenched, give to ethical research, pray for ALS patients and families

Karna Swanson
Associate Superintendents
Sister Elizabeth Youngs, SCL, (left) and Mary Cohen, drench Superintendent Richard Thompson with ice water as part of the launch of the Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge.

Denver Catholic schools will begin a new academic year Monday, and ice cubes will be involved.

On Friday, Superintendent Richard Thompson launched the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge in which he dared three school principals to “cowboy up” to the ice bucket, which we all know means getting doused with some ice water, give to ethical medical research, and pray.

The Ice Bucket Challenge, sometimes called the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, is a social media phenomenon in which anyone with a bucket of ice water and a video recording device can document themselves getting doused with ice water and post it on a social media channel, all in the name of charity.

The way it works is that the participant makes a video challenging one or several others to either dump a bucket of ice water on their head, or give a donation to a charity. For the most part, the challenge has been used to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and encourage donations to the ALS Association. To date, the campaign has generated $50 million in donations for the charity.

As Thompson explains in a video posted on YouTube Friday, the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools Ice Bucket Challenge dares participants to (1) “cowboy up” to the ice bucket (2) donate to the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, and (3) engage their school community in prayer for the victims of ALS and their families.

The John Paul II Medical Research Institute, he states, focuses on the most ethical and cost-effective way of conducting medical research to help develop therapies and cures for a variety of diseases, including ALS, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. The institute’s website notes that its research is done “with an emphasis on medical bioethics that is consistent with the dignity of human life.”

The three principals challenged by Thompson include Marc Nestorick, principal at Bishop Machebeuf High School; Tim Gallic, principal at Holy Family High School; and Mark Strawbridge, director of Catholic Schools Activities League and principal at St. Pius X Catholic School. No word yet on if these principals will rise to the challenge.

To learn more about the John Paul II Medical Research Institute, please visit:

COMING UP: Speaking of “deplorables”….

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You’d think presidential candidates would have learned that shooting from the lip in front of deep-pocket donors is asking for trouble. Mitt Romney’s ill-advised comment about the “47%” of us who are “dependent on government” helped sink his candidacy in an otherwise winnable election. Barack Obama’s snark about folks clinging to their guns and Bibles because they can’t handle post-modernity got a mulligan from a star-struck press corps; but among those paying attention that elitist smackdown put the final nail in the coffin of Obama-the-unifier, the trope Obama had exploited since his first appearance on the national stage at the 2004 Democratic convention.

Now we have Hillary Clinton, speaking to a group of LGBT activists and donors and going off-message with a rant about those Americans who fall into her “basket of deplorables:” racists, sexists, homophobes, Islamophobes, whatever. The national media quickly consigned all that to the rear-view mirror. But let me suggest that what was dismissed as an atypical, off-message gaffe was in fact an expression of Mrs. Clinton’s true sentiments – just as Donald Trump’s boorish crack about Senator John McCain being a loser for having been a POW spoke volumes about his fitness for the presidency (or indeed for village dog-catcher). So on the chance that Mrs. Clinton is elected POTUS 45 on November 8, let’s be clear what that revelatory riff about “deplorables” tells us about what’s coming.

What’s coming is an administration in which the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services will argue in the federal courts that religious freedom in full – religious communities conducting their affairs and providing needed care for the weakest in our society according to their religious convictions about the moral life – is misogynist and homophobic, a mask behind which lurk irrational biases that cannot be countenanced in law.

What’s coming is an administration in which the U.S. Agency for International Development, which dispenses billions of dollars of foreign aid, will continue to condition that aid on recipient nations bowing to the LGBT agenda – thus making enemies for America in traditional societies and cultures that will learn to equate “democracy” with libertine bullying.

What’s coming is an administration that privileges identity-politics in everything from Cabinet appointments to ambassadorships.

What’s coming is an administration that will regard any effort to restore order to homicide-ridden inner-urban communities as “racist,” thus condemning more and more innocent African-Americans to violent, random death.

What’s coming is an administration that looks down its nose at those portrayed with unsparing clarity and deep compassion in J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: which means that those who aren’t making it in America today – for no fault of their own or because of bad decisions they’ve made – will continue to spiral downwards both socially and economically.

And it means that faithful Catholics who believe in colorblind equality before the law, the dignity and value of every human life at all stages and in all conditions, marriage rightly understood, and an ethic of love that recognizes the truths built into us by the Creator and confirmed by reason will be considered….well, deplorable. And thus will likely be deplored, in any number of ways.

But while we’re on the subject of deplorability, let me go equal-opportunity here and say that I think it utterly deplorable that Mrs. Clinton’s principal opponent, Mr. Donald Trump, continues to praise Vladimir Putin – and is joined in doing so by bears of little brain who’ve doubled-down on Trump’s queer notion that the Russian president is a strong leader who gets things done.

Well. What the ex-KGB hand, Putin, has gotten done is this: he’s erected a kleptocratic quasi-dictatorship on top of a crumbling civil society while murdering his political opponents, invading his neighbors, backstopping Syria’s murderous Bashar al-Assad, and conducting a fantastic propaganda campaign throughout the world (supported, sadly, by the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church): all of which is aimed at reversing the verdict of recent history, rebuilding Stalin’s empire in a new guise, and deconstructing the West. Anyone who doesn’t recognize this aggression as just that, a reversion to the Cold War, is deplorably ill-informed or deplorably gullible. Anyone who thinks Putin’s accomplishment admirable is morally obtuse and, well, deplorable.

The Republic is in deep trouble.