ROANOKE, Va. -

A group of men and women stood in front of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute dressed in shorts and t-shirts on Wednesday morning. 

On the count of "one, two three" buckets were picked up and raised overhead.  As the ice water spilled out so did the squeals and screams.

This group has a special interest in the cause.  You see they are the men and women who do research on ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease at VTCRI.

"ALS is real," said Dr. Greg Valdez , a researcher and Virginia Tech Assistant Professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. "It is one of the most devastating, if not the most devastating of the neurological diseases out there."

This group is taking the challenge to help bring awareness and money to the cause. 

While the buckets were being filled and before he was drenched with ice water, Dr. Valdez spoke to WDBJ7.

He calls ALS an orphan disease, saying it doesn't get much attention or money from big pharmaceutical companies or the government for research.  One reason is that not as many people are afflicted with ALS as some other diseases.

"We need the public in this," Dr. Valdez said. "We can't do this kind of research. We can't have a shot at creating some type of therapeutics for diseases like ALS unless we have the public behind us."

ALS or what's called Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease 
is a devastaing disorder," said Dr. Michael Friedlander, VTCRI Founding Executive Director.  "We really don't understand how it works and there is a tremendous need to do research to come up with a cure."

Research money at VTCRI that goes toward ALS research right now comes from the government from the National Institutes of Health, according to Dr. Friedlander, but leaders here say it's not enough.  They're asking people to head to their web site and donate to the institute directly.

"When this disease begins it progresses rapidly," said Dr. Valdez. 

The brain is still intact, but the muscles degenerate.   "Individuals become paralyzed. They can't swallow.  They can't speak.  It's a very debilitating disease," said Dr. Valdez.  "It's horrible in the sense that those individuals know their loved ones are suffering but there's nothing that can be done about it."

While Dr. Valdez realizes there have been some differing viewpoints on the ice bucket challenge he offered this view.

"From my vantage point,  anything that brings awareness to a disease that is often times neglected is very, very important," said Dr. Valdez.