Have you been watching with curiosity as celebrities started dumping a giant bucket of ice water into their heads these few past weeks? Have you been wondering what that’s all about? It is a viral social media challenge known as the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge” and it has been trending. Now friends and relatives have been taking up the challenge as well. However, some critics have wondered if some people lost sight of the “ALS” in this trending challenge.
The main purpose of the challenge is to raise money and awareness for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) research, an extremely debilitating neurodegenerative disease that claims lives all over the world. Sadly, there is currently no cure. Upon diagnosis, patients are not expected to survive longer than a few years. ALS is frightening, as it eventually takes away all motor function, including control of respiration, rendering the affected person paralyzed in every part of their body. Because their minds remain functional while their bodies are immobile, it is known as a “locked-in disorder” among neuroscientists. ALS is absolutely horrible and difficult to deal with for the sufferer as well as their loved ones.
Before this challenge, the average Facebook or Twitter user probably didn’t know what ALS was, let alone donate to the ALS Association to help fund research geared toward ALS treatment and potential cures. This is why this challenge is so important. With the involvement of the famous, like Bill Gates, Sidney Crosby, and Steven Spielbergto name a few as well as us average people, the ALS Association has reported a whopping $31.5 million in donations as compared to the $1.9 million they received last year. I’d say that’s pretty successful, wouldn’t you? And if we, as a society, can do this with the simple power of social media and word of mouth, can you imagine just how endless the possibilities are?
If you have learned nothing else from being doused in ice cold water on camera and shivering for the next hour, think of it as a wake-up call. A very cold, very jarring wake-up call. There is this sense of responsibility if you get nominated, you should take up the challenge and make a donation. Every little bit counts!
Together, we can raise millions of dollars and become philanthropists just by using the same sites we use every day. The Ice Bucket Challenge is just the beginning. It should be a motivator to really put yourself out there, stand up for what you believe in, and make a positive difference.