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Group hopes to take ice bucket challenge to a new level

By Staff | Jun 6, 2019

Cre8 Salon & Spa owner, Mary Sagorac, tried to get Ellen DeGeneres’ attention once before by completing the most consecutive haircuts by a team in eight hours.

That didn’t work, so on Sunday at 2 p.m. on the Cape Coral High School football field, they’re trying something new.

The Cre8 Salon team and members of the Southwest Florida community will attempt to bring back the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

But they don’t want to just bring it back; they want to break the Guinness World Record.

Participants will line up and spell out “E-L-L-E-N” and drones and camera crews will capture the moment with the hope of grabbing the attention of the comedian and talk show host.

The endeavor isn’t for publicity or fame. It’s to help a longtime customer and friend, Hilde Heard, meet DeGeneres and hopefully make a difference in the battle against Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, more commonly known as ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“Ellen is a powerful woman and Hilde is a pretty powerful woman,” Sagorac said. “They just need to meet. I think they can do great things for ALS.”

The challenge, in which people dump buckets of ice and water over their heads, is also a way to highlight Heard’s decade-old-dream to meet DeGeneres.

The day of the world record attempt is the first day of the 2019 National ALS Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C. The challenge was a worldwide sensation in 2014 and raised $220 million for ALS organizations.

“We’re determined to do everything we can for Hilde, whose unbreakable spirit is an inspiration to all of us,” Sagorac said. “We knew we had to do something to help Hilde get Ellen’s attention, not just for Hilde, but for all ALS sufferers everywhere.”

Hilde Heard was Sagorac’s customer before she opened her own salon, and she’s been taking care of her longtime friend for 20 years.

In 2007 Heard told Sagorac she was diagnosed with the disease.

Sagorac has seen her go from a cane to a wheelchair to an electric wheelchair to only being able to blink. Heard, who has an advanced stage of ALS, can currently communicate with a Tobii computer, which tracks her eye movements as she shifts her gaze from one letter to the next, helping her spell out words and communicate with others.

“I saw her progress with this horrible disease and it’s kind of been our mission to help her,” Sagorac said. “She can’t do much for herself.”

ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost.

Sagorac, who has known Heard since the late 1990s, described her as a strong and funny German woman.

“She can still manage to make you laugh while she types with her eyes,” she said.

Even though Heard can’t move, she still sends Facebook messages and, Sagorac said, does everything as far as being able to communicate.

The world record for the largest Ice Bucket Challenge is 782 people.

Sagorac says she’s praying for a really big traffic jam on Sunday.

As of Tuesday, 200 people have registered.

“We want to smash and shatter that record for sure,” Sagorac said.

So far, the response from the community has been amazing and Sagorac said people are 100 % supportive of it.

“I truly do think of Hilde when I wake up in the morning and plant my two feet on the ground,” Sagorac said. “I think God for the opportunity. We don’t realize the things we take for granted. She can’t scratch her head if she has an itch. You just feel sorry for your friend.”

She says Heard quickly progressed after she was diagnosed, but Sagorac loves her no matter what.

She takes care of her and every six weeks she goes to her house and cuts her hair.

Sagorac admits she didn’t know much about the disease until it affected someone close to her.

“You don’t realize what you go through until it affects someone you love,” she said, later adding that, “ALS has been around for 80 years and there’s still no cure.”

Sagorac thinks that getting DeGeneres involved would help raise the greatest possible awareness for the disease.

“My heart really wants to make this happen for Hilde,” she said. “I want her to know she has friends that love her and support her no matter what. I really feel she’s been hanging in there because she has a mission to spread the word about ALS.”

Sagorac said Heard was an oncology nurse for years before she retired.

“She definitely knows what it’s like to work and be compassionate with the sick. I know it would mean the world to her.”

Sagorac feels confident that with everyone’s help, “We can break this record, bring Hilde and Ellen together, and make this dream a reality.”