Anyone who has social media has seen it. A video of their friend standing outside with a bucket next to them, they do a quick little speech about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, nominate three friends and dump a bucket of ice water on them. Sounds fun, right?
My Facebook and Instagram have been filled with videos like this, which challenges the nominee to either dump a bucket of ice water on their head, or donate to the ALS foundation, within 24 hours. They then get to nominate three friends and the cycle continues.
When I first saw this, my inital thought was that it was ridiculous. How could dumping a bucket of ice water on yourself possibly raise money for a disease, and why would anyone want to participate in it.
Then I was nominated.
It was bound to happen, really. But I had kept my mouth, or keyboard, shut for the most part in hopes that no one would choose me. I was nominated Wednesday, a rather cold August day and was faced with a choice, donate, or dump cold water on me.
I was at my boyfriend’s house when nominated and his sister and I began a conversation about the challenge. I said I thought it was ridiculous, most people, it seemed had dumped the water on themselves, rather than donate. She informed me that it was started by a former Division I 29-year-old baseball player from Boston, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.
An article posted by TheWire.com explains that the baseball player, Peter Frates, started the challenge in order to raise awarness for the disease which has gone otherwise unnnoticed, except for those affected. There is no cure for the disease, which kills the nerve endings in a person’s brain and spine, causing paralysis and eventually death. Currently, the only treatment for ALS comes in the form of medication that moderately slows the progression, according to the ALS website, ALSA.org.
As Frates put it in an article written in Bleacher Report for the 75th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s, who made the disease well-known, “Luckiest Man” speech: “Prescribed little more than various over-the-counter vitamins, I was entering a gun fight armed with the equivalent of a plastic spork.”
Frates set out to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s disease and did so by taking to social media. With the hashtag #IceBucketChallenge trending, it’s impossible to look anywhere without seeing someone getting soaked with cold water. From the Buffalo Bills, to the Kennedys to Matt Lauer, the ice bucket challenge is gaining a lot of attention.
And after I completed it, I did some research into how many people have actually donated to the cause, 70,000 since the beginning of August, raising $4 million for ALS research. What’s even more amazing, is that in the same time span in 2013, the ALS Association only received $1.2 million. Talk about the power of social media.
What’s even better is that it’s starting a conversation about a disease that kills one person every 90 minutes in the United States, according to ALSA.org
And while dumping very cold water on yourself is a far cry from finding the cure, starting the conversation and raising funds is a step in the right direction. Keep fighting Peter Frates!
For more information on the ice bucket challenege, ALS, or how to donate, visit www.ALSA.org. Happy nomintaing!