Over the summer, a new charitable organization hit the Facebook “trending” ticker. The ALS Ice Bucket challenge went viral during summer 2014, convincing 2.4 million Facebook users to douse themselves in icy water for the good of the cause. Users would get a bucket filled with water and ice cubes, and dump it on their heads or donate $100 to the ALS Association. Then they nominate 2-4 friends to do the same. In my opinion, this is a wonderful public advocacy campaign, and other charities should follow suit. To date there have been 2.4 million Facebook posts and 3.7 million videos uploaded with the hashtags #ALSicebucketchallenge and #icebucketchallenge (www.bbc.com).
The posts and videos are meant to raise awareness and donations for the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association. ALS, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” is a neurodegenerative
disease that affects nerves in the brain and spinal cord. The motor neurons slowly die and the brain loses the ability to initiate and control muscle movement. Patients in later stages of this disease can become totally paralyzed. Early symptoms of ALS often include muscle weakness, speech problems, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. When muscles begin to atrophy, they no longer function proper-ly and can look “thinner”.(www.alsa.org)
Skeptics of the #icenucketchallenge argue it’s too trendy, people are being environmentally wasteful, and it’s not actually helping. I argue that the Ice Bucket Challenge is, in the end, doing much more positive than negative for the cause and other charities should strive to attempt a similar media fad. I’ve seen videos of people using rain water, cold shower water, or substituting an “ice bucket” with sand or grass to raise awareness about one of California’s worst droughts in history. There are eco-friendly ways of fulfilling the challenge. I also agree that this is a short-lived movement, but it’s getting the job done. Donations to the ALS Association have gone from $2.7 million to $98.2 million over the course of a summer.
Similar organizations in Britain have also received these benefits. Sure, this will probably not continue, and yes, people are not giving from the goodness of their hearts, but the ALS Association is still receiving higher donations than ever before. Big-time celebrities and local families are opening their wallets for a cause that could truly use the money. It may not be a “genuine” charitable gift, but the money is still being raised for research and other aide.
Getting people who are not personally affected by a disease to donate their extra spending money is no small feat. And while there are criticisms and drawbacks to the challenge, I believe that in the end the Ice Bucket Challenge has brought much needed funds to a worthy cause, and other charities should strive towards creating a similar media buzz.