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September 25, 2017

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Celebs, politicians take Ice Bucket Challenge

TAIPEI -- The social media sensation of dumping ice water on celebrities and posting a video online to raise awareness of a paralyzing disease has spread to Taiwan, with political figures and celebrities taking on the task and challenging more to participate.

Sean Lien (連勝文), who is representing the Kuomintang in the year-end Taipei mayoral race, posted a video on Facebook Monday of him dumping ice water over himself in a park in the capital city.

Lien and his main rival, independent Ko Wen-je (柯文哲), were named to participate by singer and actress Ariel Lin, who took the plunge herself a day earlier as part of the Ice Bucket Challenge, a viral meme meant to raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease.

After completing the task, Lien challenged incumbent Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), New Taipei Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) and Education Minister Wu Se-hwa (吳思華) to do it.

A spokesman for Ko, meanwhile, said the independent candidate will give it a go later Monday evening.

National Development Council (NDC, 國發會) Minister Kuan Chung-ming (管中閔), also named by Lin, has accepted the challenge and will also drench himself in ice water later this evening.

People taking part in the Ice Bucket Challenge can opt either to douse themselves in ice water or to donate US$100 to fund research into the disease.

ALS deprives patients of the ability to control muscle movement and often leads to total paralysis and death within two to five years of diagnosis.

Liu Yen-chu (劉延鉅), head of the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association, which treats people with ALS, poured ice water over himself Monday in Taipei to show his support. He named Yang Dai-kang (陽岱鋼), the Japan-based Taiwanese baseball star, to follow him.

Liu said he chose Yang because the latter had something in common with the man behind the Ice Bucket Challenge sensation — Pete Frates, a former U.S. athlete with Boston College Baseball who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012.

Prominent figures who have had a bucket of ice dumped over the heads include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Though he was named by Ethel Kennedy — widow of former U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy — U.S. President Barack Obama has opted to donate to support the cause instead of getting himself drenched.

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