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Thoughts on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Over the last few weeks, anyone with internet access has been bombarded with videos of athletes, musicians, family members, friends, and neighbors dumping ice water over their heads to raise awareness and donate money for something called ALS. Having known a few people who have suffered from ALS, otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and very recently watching a family lose a loved one to it, I decided to jump on the bandwagon. Since then I have been overwhelmed with the viral sensation it has become, and am proud to have been a part of it all. On the other hand, I am very disappointed in some of the negative comments I have read, and would like to take this opportunity to respond.

Numerous meme’s are being passed around. One depicts an African child in a dirty t-shirt with the caption “So, let me get this straight. You waste clean water as a challenge, in order to avoid raising money for charity?” I’ve also read countless posts of people complaining that they keep seeing these videos of people getting wet, but how are they raising awareness when the person in the video does not explain what ALS is. Then there are the posts that suggest that if a person participates in the ice bucket challenge, somehow it means they do not care about other “more important” issues happening in the world, like the Ferguson, MO shooting, war in Iraq, saving the whales, cancer, AIDS, and the list goes on.

Here is what I have to say to these people, if you don’t want to participate, don’t. If you find the videos irritating, click on something else. I hate running, so I don’t sign up for 5k marathons. Do I think raising money for Saint Jude, Susan G. Komen, The American Heart Association, is important? Absolutely! As far as the meme suggesting that people are wasting water, maybe that’s true. I promise not to take a shower for the next 7 days to make up for it, and next time I donate money to a worthy cause, maybe I’ll go with The Water Project. I hope by day 7 of not showering, I sit next to every single person trying to take something that is meant to be positive and tear it down because they are annoyed.

When passing the challenge down the line, some people have set it up where the person/s being called out must dump water on their head OR donate. This implies to some people, that if you see a celebrity pouring a bucket over their head, this (might) mean they opted out of the donation part, making the whole thing pointless. I agree that if someone with the financial means to contribute chose not to, that is pretty tacky. Perhaps they did donate, and just didn’t want to make a big deal about it. Making the video still helps raise awareness and keep the message alive. In most of the videos I’ve seen, people simply state that they are participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, do the water bit, and then call out the next “victims.” I have seen people take it a step further and include the name of the website to donate to, offer to make a donation for each person they challenge that follows through, and the ones who don’t do a video must make their own donations. A few videos asks those challenged to donate to the charity of their choice. To those complaining that they have seen all of these stupid videos and still don’t know what ALS is, so it is not helping to raise awareness, please click this link www.google.com. Raising awareness does not mean that every participant is required to give a dissertation; it invites the viewer to get curious and do their own research to find out more, and hopefully get involved.

If The Ice Bucket Challenge was just a bunch of attention starved jerks trying to make a splash on YouTube, I would find this whole thing ridiculous, too. The facts, however, speak for themselves. According to an article posted on the Time Magazine website, The ALS Association has reported it has raised 16 times the amount they raised during the same time period last year, raising $8.6 million in a single day. There has been an outpouring of gratitude from those directly affected by this disease, including this incredible video shared by Anthony Carbajal. Anthony has lost a grandmother to ALS, is taking care of his mother while she suffers, and has recently been diagnosed himself, at the age of 26. So, I apologize on behalf of the millions who have participated to those who find our videos irksome, but it cannot be nearly as annoying or terrifying as waking up one morning to discover that the simple task of buttoning a shirt has become difficult. I will add that without this silly little fund raising campaign, videos like these from Foo Fighters (because Carrie), Ben Affleck (because their kid laughing in the background is the cutest), and Hugh Jackman (because fireworks) would not be in all of our lives. If you would like to find out more about ALS, or make a contribution, please visit www.alsa.org.