Ice bucket challenge raises awareness too

August 20. 2014 10:05AM
By Jen Stevens Special to the Weekender

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I have to admit I was a little skeptical, and even a bit negative, when the Ice Bucket Challenge first emerged. Originally I said things like “what a waste of water” and “stop shaming your friends into donating to some charity they have never even heard of!” So yeah, I was kind of ignorant to the facts and even a little mean.
The challenge has gone viral and if you haven't heard about it yet you must live under a rock. I'm sure some of you are groaning right now reading this since a majority of your Facebook news feed this past week has been someone you know dumping a bucket of ice water over his or her head. But the truth is the challenge actually worked.
According to the ALS Association's website, as of Monday, August 18, the ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.7 million during the same period of time last year. These donations are largely due to the challenge. The challenge has inspired millions of people around the globe to give to the cause.
Barbara J. Newhouse, President and CEO of the ALS Association, posted a message to praising the challenge and all the good it's done. “Without a doubt, the popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge, the social media phenomenon that continues to sweep the nation, has encouraged tens of thousands of Americans to not only douse themselves with ice water but to also open their pocketbooks and to donate to the fight against ALS.”
The challenge itself is pretty simple. If you are nominated or want to do it on your own, you can either donate $100 to the cause or douse yourself with ice water and film it (and still donate). Everyone's doing it too. Athletes, actors, politicians, musicians (even Eddie Vedder) and us regular folk have all been involved.
So what is ALS? Before this challenge went viral I really didn't know much about it. Actually, I didn't know anything about it. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. The disease is a terrible fate for anyone to suffer.
The reality is that it's unfortunate it takes video taping yourself doing something stupid to donate money to a charity. Hopefully all of the people doing the challenge are actually donating to ALS as well. While ALS is a horrendous disease, it's one I have little personal understanding of. For me seeing the challenge get such an overwhelming response inspires me to be more active in the charities that touch my heart.
Rather than challenge my readers to do the Ice Bucket Challenge I challenge you to actually donate to the ALS Association or a charity that's near and dear to your heart. Volunteer somewhere this month, bring needed supplies to your local animal shelter and if you're able, instead of buying those new shoes, donate money to a worthy cause.

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