Catherine Littlewood spent most of Monday’s lunch hour with tears of gratitude streaming down her face. And that was just the beginning of the waterworks.
The recently retired development technician, who was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in the spring, watched as dozens of her Ministry of Transportation coworkers gathered in front of city hall for a resurrected version of the viral Ice Bucket Challenge.
They were all there to honour her.
“This means the world. It really does,” she told the Star. “These are my coworkers and my friends. A lot of them are from the RDCK because we worked really closely with them. This is very overwhelming.”
Along with her husband, Littlewood watched as one by one her supporters, including Humans of Nelson author Ryan Oakley, volunteered to have buckets dumped over their heads — all this despite the brisk October weather. She greeted her former boss, Hugh Eberle, who had come prepared in swim trunks.
Eberle hadn’t anticipated the surprise his coworkers had prepared for him, though: a front end loader ready to dump gallons of ice cold water on his head. To his credit, he took it like a sport and maneuvered into position — though he later jokingly promised retribution for his staff.
“I feel refreshed,” Eberle said, post-dousing. “It was well worth it because not only is Catherine a close personal friend — she was also a coworker and this is what we could do to demonstrate our love for her and our support of her.”
Littlewood hopes people will education themselves on ALS.
“It’s a devastating illness and there’s not much known about it. All donations will go to research, and they will go towards giving equipment to people with ALS. Wheelchairs, scooters, things to help you in and out of the bath tub — these are very significant contributions, and expensive, and they mean a lot.”
She thanked everyone for their support.
“The ALS Society is all run by donations and it’s amazing to see people come out to support people who have been diagnosed with this very serious illness.”