Why is everyone taking the ALS ice bucket challenge?


WASHINGTON, August 19, 2014 —  As of Tuesday, August 19, 2014, the ALS Association has received $22.9 million in donations compared to $1.9 million during the same period last year, ccording to the ALS Association. These donations have come from existing donors as well as 453,210 new donors.

The dramatic increase has come in the form of an ice bucket.

The ice bucket challenge is a simple concept. Someone is nominated to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads and film it. When they post the video onto social media they nominate at least one other person, although often it is multiple persons, to do the same. If the nominated individual does not make the video and post it within 24 hours, they need to make a donation to the ALS Association. The donation amount is usually $100.

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When the ice bucket challenge started, it was not connected to any particular charity. The nominated person would pick a charity of their choice, but on July 15, it became the ALS ice bucket challenge.

Chris Kennedy, from Sarasota Florida was nominated to participate. The person who nominated Kennedy had picked a childhood cancer charity to support. Kennedy picked the ALS Association because a relative was suffering with the disease. When he passed the challenge along, he nominated his wife’s cousin, whose husband was the one with ALS. On July 15, Kennedy posted his video and the ALS ice bucket challenge was created.

The challenge spread through their small community until it came to the attention of another man with ALS, Pat Quinn. His ALS community sent the challenge far and wide.

In the beginning, there were mixed feeling about watching all of these entertaining videos of people being doused in so many creative ways with ice water because by participating in the challenge implied that they were election not to donate to the charity.

But it appears that many of the nominated are opting to dump themselves as well as make a donation. And as the challenges have become viral and celebrities such as Brittany Spears, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga and Christian Ronaldo have joined in, (President Obama turned down the nomination from Justin Beiber but did pledge a donation) awareness of the disease has spread and when choosing their charitable donations, people are considering ALS.

The ice bucket challenge is a challenge that people can participate in without risking bodily harm, unlike many of the other social media challenges of late.

Neknominate, was a challenge that was circulating through young people’s social media earlier this year which required the nominated to video themselves downing a large, often previously unopened, bottle of alcohol. It was a challenge that cost five men under 30 their lives.

The salt and ice challenge involved nominating someone to wet an area of skin then cover it with salt before applying pressure with an ice cube until the pressure becomes so unbearable that they have to stop. By adding the salt, it created the chemical process where the water’s freezing point drops to zero degrees. When applying ice, the energy is pulled from the skin. Some participants developed second degree burns and frostbite.

There certainly have been critics of the ice bucket challenge, calling it “slacktivism” or “hashtag-activism” and speculating that some of the participants do not even know what ALS is.

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Yes, it is probably true and it certainly is the perfect vehicle for our attention seeking society, but from looking at the number being reported out of the ALS Association, the hash-tag activism seems to be working.

ALS is short for Amyotrophic lateral Sclerosis and is often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” in the United States, after the baseball player who died of the disease at the age of 37 in 1941.

It is a devastating disease which effects people in the prime of their lives.

Stephen Hawking has had the disease since he was in college in 1963.

It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease causes the neurons to die. When this happens, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.

Due to the small number of people who are affected by the disease, moneys for research and awareness has always been a challenge.

There are a number of clinical trials underway providing hope to those afflicted. The money being raised by the ice bucket challenge could be a complete game changer for ALS research.

I only have one more thing to add. To my editors, Jacquie, Lisa, Jim, Kevin and Terry, I nominate you. You have 24 hours to take the challenge.

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  • Ahh…. unfortunately I am traveling and unable to acquiesce to that request right now… but when I get back …. because this hotel does not have an ice bucket in the room…

  • And uhhh… where is your ice bucket challenge Miss Ruth – we need to see that before you can nominate us… you know.. so send me that gif, so we can post it here.. or youtube video, either way… and then within 24 hours of my seeing that, and getting home… its done!

  • mmj420

    It’s good to see them getting some money for this horrible disease. I believe they have been going thru the MDA or similar organization for funding. There is no stand alone funding organization for ALS.

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