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.
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.