ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Takes Off in a Big Way

You’ve probably seen video after video on your Facebook, Instagram or Twitter feeds. Celebrities, athletes, your friends and just about anyone else you can think of are dumping buckets of ice water on their heads and it’s going viral.

Where Did It Get Started?

There’s several different stories floating around the Internet as to where and how this challenge really started, so we can’t say for sure where it began, but somewhere along the line it became the craze it is today. With celebrities of all calibers nominating each other, it’s taken off and raised not only awareness, but millions of dollars as well (at last count, donations had reached over $100 million, averaging about $9 million per day since last week).

The Rules

The rules are simple: Participants are to dump a bucket of ice water on their heads, film it and post on any given social media website with the various hashtags being used to circulate awareness. That person then nominates people (usually 3, but some people nominate more or less) who are then given 24 hours to comply or make a donation in lieu of getting wet (usually $100, but again some people give more or less, as their circumstances allow).

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Naysayers

Like with everything in the world today, of course there are naysayers out there trying to tear down the idea of this spectacle. People who think it’s a waste of water, those who are pessimistic about how much awareness is really being raised by celebrities getting soaked, and those who believe it is in poor taste to take the challenge rather than donating are clearly not seeing all the positive consequences of this viral sensation.

As to the argument that it’s a waste of water, specifically in California, which is experiencing a drought at the moment, many celebs and regular people alike are coming up with different, unique solutions to combat that problem. From using buckets of rainbow colored diet Sierra Mist (that would be screenwriter Max Landis’ brilliant take on it), to skipping their daily shower to conserve water (actress Anna Kendrick took this route), to insisting that they’ve used dirty bath water (so say actors Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart in their challenge video) or using rice as a substitute a la Miley Cyrus, there are plenty of options out there to completing this without being a wasteful person.

For those pessimistic about the awareness being raised or focus actually being on the disease and organization, watch any given number of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos and you’ll notice that those completing the task (especially celebrities) make a point to inform the viewing public not only about ALS in general, but also the charity and how to donate as well.

Those out there who truly believe it’s in poor taste to be doing these challenges because they assume that means all these people aren’t donating, are missing the point entirely. Many even point out in their videos that they’ve already donated or will be donating, but are still doing the challenge. This is a fun way to raise awareness and funds for a worthy cause.

Some Facts about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis)

Over 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS, commonly referred to as ‘Lou Gehrig’s Disease’ for the legendary New York Yankees First Basemen who was diagnosed in 1939. It is a neurodegenerative disease that affects the spinal cord and nerve cells eventually leading to the inability of the brain to control muscle movement.

  • It is not contagious
  • Life Expectancy – averages 2-5 years from time of diagnosis, but it is different for everyone and many people are able to live for 5 years or longer after diagnosis (one rare case is physicist Stephen Hawking, who has survived for more than 50 years)
  • There is no specific ethnic, societal, economic, racial or gender boundary, this disease can affect anyone
  • Muscle weakness and stiffness are early symptoms

So while seeing your favorite celebrity get doused with ice water is funny and entertaining, let’s not forget the reason they’re taking the plunge. Visit www.alsa.org for more information and how to get involved.

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