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story.lead_photo.caption Sarita Robinson, left, and Becca Hudson stand in front of the Farmers Market in downtown Benton. Robinson and Hudson are organizing a block party for Saturday with the proceeds benefiting ALS Association Arkansas Chapter. - Photo by Sam Pierce

— At the height of its popularity, the ice bucket challenge spread through social-media platforms as a way to encourage others to donate to charities or organizations.

Most notably, the challenge helped promote awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease, also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which attacks motor neurons, cells that control the muscles.

The ice bucket challenge’s popularity has declined, but organizers for the first Block Party at the Farmers Market in downtown Benton set for Saturday said they hope to reignite it.

“A lot of people did the ice bucket challenge in the past, and some people knew what they were doing it for,” said Sarita Robinson, one of the co-organizers of the event. “It was really a way to raise awareness for ALS, so we wanted to bring it back just so people can understand and experience what it is like to be diagnosed with that disease.”

Robinson said the challenge, which involves dumping a bucket of ice and water over a person’s head, is a great way to facilitate awareness. She said the ice bucket challenge is something that a lot of people know about, but “we haven’t seen in it a while.”

“Hopefully, we can kind of revamp it,” she said.

The ice bucket challenge will be one of many booths scheduled for the event, which begins at 3 p.m. There is no admission to attend the party, but tickets to participate at the booths are $1 each.

The event will also feature food trucks, bouncy houses and Nerf war inflatables, as well as carnival games, face painting, live music and a silent auction.

The biggest item up for auction is a night out at the Arkansas Travelers baseball game. Access Control Devices Incorporated, or ACDI, is the main sponsor for the event, and it has a suite at Dickey Stephens Park. The auction item is for the Aug. 25 game and includes 15 tickets, plus food and beverage. There will also be gift certificates from local retailers and some salon packages.

The food trucks have committed to donating a portion of their proceeds from the event to the ALS Association Arkansas Chapter.

Robinson and co-organizer Becca Hudson work for ACDI and said the main reason behind the event came after executive vice president Matt Bennett had a close family member diagnosed with ALS.

“I’m very grateful for key members of our company stepping up and bringing awareness to this horrific disease — a disease that has impacted my wife’s family as well as more than 100 other current families here in Arkansas,” Bennett said.

“Like many other diseases that are out there, I hope this one, too, can be found on the ‘curable’ list much sooner than later,” he said.

“We decided to help show our support and thought it would be a great fundraiser to stand behind someone that we absolutely adore,” Hudson said. “Because that is what we are like here, we are like family. We have to stand behind family.”

Robinson said one of the reasons ACDI moved to its Benton location in the first place was because there were a lot of employees who live in Benton.

“Our values and initiatives for this year are to make sure we are really involved with our community,” Robinson said. “We don’t want to be just another name in Benton.

“We want to make sure we are actively engaging in the community and engaging in causes that we care about.”

Robinson said the event will be a great way to bring awareness for a disease that not a lot of people even know about.

“There are 15 new cases of ALS every day [in the United States],” Robinson said, referring to a statistic from the ALS Association.

According to, there are are more than 20,000 Americans living with the disease.

“Once you are diagnosed with it, it is a matter of time before it takes your life,” Robinson said.

“… The typical life span is about three to five years, and the ones that live longer are the ones that have a lot of support.

“The ALS Association Arkansas Chapter provides grants and support of the families that do have ALS or are affected by it. They need all the help can get so that they can continue to provide these resources.”

Robinson and Hudson said they did not have a set goal in mind for this week’s block party as far as how much they want to raise.

“Right now, through our Facebook and others that we have heard from, we are expecting more than 200 people to attend,” Hudson said. “I’m thinking we are going to have a pretty decent crowd.”

For more information or to donate auction items, contact Hudson at

Staff writer Sam Pierce can be reached at (501) 244-4314 or

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