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April 28, 2017

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More in Taiwan take the plunge for Ice Bucket Challenge

TAIPEI--Celebrities and public figures in Taiwan braced themselves for having a bucket of ice water dumped on their heads Tuesday as they continued the Internet sensation meant to raise awareness about a paralyzing disease.

Local tycoon Terry Gou (郭台銘) took the Ice Bucket Challenge in New Taipei alongside people fighting amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, and volunteers from the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association, which treats people with ALS.

Standing under a bucket controlled by a robotic arm, the chairman of Hon Hai (鴻海) Precision Industry Co., also known as Foxconn, got soaked after his wife and an ALS patient in a wheelchair pulled a rope tied to the device.

Gou participated after being nominated by Beijing Xiaomi (小米) Technology Co. CEO Lei Jun (雷軍) for the task, in which participants can either douse themselves in ice water or donate US$100 to an ALS charity, or opt to do both.

But Gou did not stop at US$100, pledging instead a generous sum of US$200,000 to the Taiwan association and announcing a further cash donation of US$100,000 to a former employee who was diagnosed with the disease.

He also named the next in line to take the challenge, including supermodel Lin Chi-ling (林志玲). Lin has agreed to take part, according to Gou.

Sports stars have also embraced the viral campaign. Taiwanese-American basketball player Jeremy Lin (林書豪) and Taiwanese tennis ace Lu Yen-hsun (盧彥勳) took on the challenge earlier Tuesday.

Lin, who has a huge fan following in Taiwan, took his own approach in a video posted to Facebook, in which he is tossed into the ocean from a beach.

Lu took the traditional approach and poured a bucket of water with ice cubes over himself in a bathtub. In addition to getting drenched, Lu said he would donate US$100 to the Taiwan association to attract more attention to ALS patients on the island.

Politicians continued to show their support as well, with Chiou Shu-ti, the ruling Kuomintang's candidate for Yilan County magistrate, having a bucket of ice water poured on her by aides.

Chiou then challenged President Ma Ying-jeou to the task. Ma opted to make a donation rather than take an icy bath.

Presidential Office Spokeswoman Ma Wei-kuo (no relation) said the donation is part of the president's long-term efforts to support ALS sufferers, which include having made appearances at a book launch and art exhibition held by local patients as well as previous donations to groups including the Taiwan Motor Neuron Disease Association.

The challenge spread to Taiwan from the United States, where it has drenched major public figures such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and pop star Lady Gaga.

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