By now you have surely witnessed what is known as the “Ice Bucket Challenge.” It has been gaining popularity as it spreads like wildfire across the Internet and social media feeds. There is usually a video, with a person standing in front of a bucket of ice water, making a statement similar to: “My name is Bob, and I was nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge by Jane. I nominate Steve, Joe, and Sally. You have 24 hours to complete the Challenge, or donate $100 to ALS.” The person then picks up the bucket filled with ice and dumps it over their head, which is then followed by screaming, sometimes laughing, and then the video ends.
As the word spreads, a number of celebrities have gotten under the flow of ice cold water to help promote awareness. A simple Google search will yield a large number of results of famous supporters and their naming of new challengers. Governor Chris Christie challenged Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg who then challenged Bill Gates. Justin Timberlake graciously accepted his challenge, along with a platoon of people behind him, and in turn challenged Jimmy Fallon, Steve Higgins, and The Roots. Today Show’s Matt Lauer felt the gush of cold on his head during his challenge, and so did the Domestic Diva, Martha Stuart.
When I first started seeing these videos, I scoffed at the antics, wondering how a Facebook video of dumping cold water on your head was going to help anyone. The critic in me also noted that since all of these people were dumping ice water on their heads, nobody seemed to be donating any money to the foundation they were allegedly supporting. Fortunately, I was wrong.
The ALS website offered a surprising statistic: “Between July 29 and August 12, the ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing $4 million in donations compared to $1.2 million during the same time period last year.” The website goes on to explain that since July 29, they have seen more than 70,000 new donors.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.” ALS affects more than 12,000 people in the US, or 3.9 per 100,000.
Despite the thousands, and possibly millions of gallons of ice water that have been dumped over people’s heads, both the cause and the cure to ALS are still unknown. There is hope, however, with each challenge made and bucket filled. There is hope that as awareness continues to spread through the power of social media, that enough money will be donated and enough attention will be given to this disease that a cure will be identified. Challengers are demonstrating the power we have when united for a common good. With the outpouring of love and support that has been shown by people everywhere, it is apparent that even the coldest of waters can be warmed by the compassion of the human spirit.
By: Dennis Nappi II