Fighting ALS with learning, not ‘likes': would you accept the ‘no ice bucket’ challenge?

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – You can’t sign into Facebook these days without seeing videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. The social media site is absolutely drenched in ALS #icebucketchallenge posts.

The icy, viral trend is supposed to be designed to raise money for charity.

The challenge is straight forward: Donate $100 to a specific cause, or soak yourself in ice water, record it and pass the challenge on to friends via social media.

Lady Gaga posted her ALS ice bucket challenge acceptance video on Instagram and called out Adele, Michael Rapino, Vincent Herbert, and Arthur Fogel, who she noted were #RichPeople. (PHOTO: @ladygaga)

Lady Gaga posted her ALS ice bucket challenge acceptance video on Instagram and called out Adele, Michael Rapino, Vincent Herbert, and Arthur Fogel, who she noted were #RichPeople. (PHOTO: @ladygaga)

So far the long list of participants include everyone from regular Joes, to news personalities and pro-athletes. Even Lady Gaga got in the game with a Marina Abramović-esque performance art nod with her ice bucket dousing posted on Instagram.

So who’s next? Your grandmother; the leader of the free world; you?

As the phenomenon has caught on it has become handily linked with efforts to raise money for research on the neurodegenerative disorder ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The origins of the challenge’s association with ALS research has been debated, but the campaign is clearly effective.

The ALS Association reports it has surpassed $10 million in “ice bucket” donations. Between July 29 and August 15 the national and chapter offices in the United States have received $9.5 million in donations.

In a message posted Saturday to The ALS Association’s website, which discusses how The ALS Association will use this incredible outpouring of support to fight ALS, Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association said:

“Never before have we been in a better position to fuel our fight against this disease. Increased awareness and unprecedented financial support will enable us to think outside the box. We will be able to strategize about efforts in ways that previously would not have been possible, all while we work to fulfill and enhance our existing mission priorities nationwide.”

The full text of the letter is available here.

Anne Nolan is the chairperson for the ALS Alabama Chapter’s Walk to Defeat ALS. Nolan has accepted the ice challenge twice already. As Anne lost her father to ALS and clearly has a personal passion for stamping out the disease, she’s all for the ice.

“I mean, it’s raised a lot of money, significantly more than it ever has before just without any kind of challenge,” notes Nolan. “I think it was $1 million last year during these two-and-a-half weeks and they’re at $15.6 million this year.”

But it’s hard to shake the feeling that for most people posting videos across all social media platforms, the whole charity part seems like a postscript. After all, ice bucket fails have become almost as popular as genuine calls to donate.

You would hope the majority of participants were donating more to ALS research then they forked out on bagged ice.

As far as advocacy and awareness goes, many of the videos contain little or no information about the disease, why the money is so desperately needed or what it’s used for.

Nolan says if you take the plunge, make sure you also educate yourself – and above all, actually donate.

“ALS is being talked about every minute and a lot of people didn’t know what it was before and more people do know about it now. Plenty of people still don’t know about it and will never know about it but the awareness that it’s raised is just amazing.”

SO, here’s how the #noicebucketchallenge works: Don’t fill a bucket with ice water, don’t dump it on your head and don’t post anything to social media. Instead, educate yourself and just donate – whether to the ALS Association or other cause of your choice.

You may not get bucketfuls of Facebook ‘likes,’ but you’ll still be doing something great, helpful and – not at all wasteful.

Click here for a link to donate to the ALS Association.

The Huntsville Walk to Defeat ALS will take place this Saturday August 23 at Hudson-Alpha Institute. You can walk-up register that morning starting at 9:00. Click here to pre-register and form a  team for the walk.

2 comments

  • Kelley

    I was recently challenged to the ice bucket, if I had not been, I would not have looked up this disease that was asking so much of me. The point of the bucket is not to skip the donation, clearly proven by the impressive increase in donations compared to previous years. So not only are people dumping buckets of ice water in their heads and challenging other people to do the same, they’re donating. So step down off your high horse, donate, and accept my challenge to the ice bucket.
    With regards to your uncertainty about who started this, Google “Pete Frates”.
    I look forward to your ice bucket video.

    • Disa

      I think you are missing the point of the article….he’s made it clear that he supports awareness and donating to the cause….just don’t let the ice bucket challenge be the sole reason reason for doing it. The association needs continued support and not just this one time because of an ice bucket challenge. yes, the ice bucket is doing wonders both in terms of awareness and finances and that’s great. It is definitely needed, But after this fad fizzles away what happens? Will the people who participated and have become aware continue to donate? This was indeed a start but a long term strategy is needed especially where is concerns education on the disease.

      So instead of talking about high horses and challenging the man to an ice bucket challenge…as he stated at the end of the article. Head over the association’s website (which he provided a link in his article) and continue to give financially without being challenged.

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