Rave: ALS ice bucket challenge

Jeanette Cibelli

You’ve seen the videos on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.  It seems like everyone is doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, an effort to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  People are pouring buckets of ice water on their heads and challenging their friends to do the same within 24 hours, or to donate $100 to ALS research.  However, many are choosing to both participate in the challenge and donate, which has contributed to the overall success of the trend. More than $70 million has been donated as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that harms nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, eventually leading to the loss of muscle control, according to the ALS Association.  On average, people live for two to five years after their diagnosis, though some live longer.  There is currently no cure.  Approximately 30,000 people are affected by ALS at any given time, and about 5,600 new cases are diagnosed each year.

On Aug. 24, the ALS Association announced that $70.2 million has been raised between July 29 and Aug. 24 as a result of the Ice Bucket Challenge.  This amount was compared to the $2.5 million that was raised in that time period of last year.  They reported that there were 1.3 million new donors, in addition to existing donors.

Some say that the Ice Bucket Challenge is not philanthropy because it does not directly contribute to ALS research, but those who complete the challenge both spread awareness and encourage donations.  This challenge has gained popularity as celebrities and athletes, such as Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift and the New England Patriots, completed the challenge and made donations.  Many people may have never learned about ALS without the Ice Bucket Challenge, but now millions are talking about it and helping spread awareness even further.