By Tim Ghianni
NASHVILLE Tenn. (Reuters) - Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Tim Shaw revealed he has ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, in a video that shows him dumping a bucket full of ice water over his head as part of an ALS fundraiser.
"I’m here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease,” he said in the video posted on Tuesday, before dousing himself as part of the "Ice Bucket Challenge" to fight ALS - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
After taking the challenge, Shaw, 30, called on the Titans organization, Penn State head coach James Franklin, the school's football team and his Clarenceville, Michigan, community to do the same.
Shaw was drafted by the Carolina Panthers from Penn State and also played for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars and Chicago Bears. Shaw spent three years as a Titan before leaving football in 2013.
The challenge has become popular on social media, with celebrities such as former President George W. Bush and basketball star LeBron James posting videos online showing themselves getting doused with cold water.
The challenge has helped raise $31.5 million for the ALS Association over the past year, more than 16 times what it raised the previous year, the organization said on Wednesday.
More than 5,600 people are diagnosed each year with ALS, a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks nerve cells and pathways in the brain and spinal cord, eventually paralyzing patients, according to the organization.
A 2012 study found that National Football League players were at greater risk than the general population of dying of neurodegenerative diseases.
(Reporting by Tim Ghianni in Nashville; Editing by Brendan O'Brien, Mary Wisniewski and Peter Cooney)