To support a new classmate, about 30 students in the new Alpert Medical School class took the ALS ice bucket challenge together Friday Aug. 15.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — With more than 2 million videos online of people taking the ice bucket challenge to raise money and awareness for ALS, it may no longer seem all that personal. But for Nicole Heinl, a brand new student at the Alpert Medical School, it became doubly so on Friday Aug. 15.

Heinl lost her uncle Claude Fontaine to the neurodegenerative disease in January.

“To be frank, ALS is a nightmare,” she said. “It is hard to manage and even harder to talk about. I think that platforms like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge have tremendous creative potential to start these tough dialogues around how we approach chronic illness in this country. I guess you could say it’s a way of breaking the ice.”

With the challenge sweeping across the nation, by the end of her first week of medical school at Brown, Heinl had the gained the personal support of about 30 new friends. Together at Ship Street Square, she and about half the medical class of 2018 took the challenge with supporting faculty, such as associate dean for students Dr. Allan Tunkel and biomed facilities manager Peter Holden on hand to help.

After shivering, Heinl didn’t rest. Two days later she ran in the New Balance Falmouth Road Race to benefit Compassionate Care ALS. She has raised more than $1,000 and her team has raised thousands more with their run.

One way or another, Heinl hopes she can help to end the nightmare.