Raising money for a cause was never this fun. Anyone who is active on social media sites has probably heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge. Before we head to the fun part, ALS ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness and funds for ALS short for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease it is a terrible neurological condition. The disease got a nationwide attention back in 1939 when famous baseball player Lou Gehrig got diagnosed with it. The disease eventually ended his career after which the disease was popularly known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Motor neurons are responsible for carrying the signals from the brain to the muscles. They act somewhat like a highway that makes the communication possible. The disease causes the motor neurons to slowly degenerate which in turn lowers the brain’s ability to send impulses to the muscles. If affected patients slowly starts losing muscle strength and motor functions. As the signals from the brain fail to reach the muscles, they start to become weaker and smaller. In the later stages the disease affects, the ability to speak, chew, and even breathe. Ultimately the body goes into complete paralysis where the only way to survive is through permanent ventilatory support. Approximately 5600 people in the US are diagnosed with ALS each year while almost 30,000 are suffering from it at present time. The average life expectancy for people who are diagnosed with ALS varies from 2 to 5 years.
The Ice Bucket Challenge
The fund gathered from the ALS ice bucket challenge goes helps the patients and their families live a normal life for as long as they can. ALS association, the nonprofit organization that’s responsible for gathering the money and help ALS patients, understands how a loss of human life can affect a family. This is why a significant portion of the gathered fund goes to educating and supporting the family members of the affected.
It’s unclear who exactly started the ALS ice bucket challenge, but since it first started in mid 2014 it has been an internet phenomenon. Sweeping across the United States and beyond, it has seen thousands of participants drenching themselves in ice cold water. Apart from thousands of average Americans, the ice bucket challenge has become tremendously popular among celebrities and famous personalities as people like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Stephen Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Cruise, Vin Diesel, Will Smith, Charlie Sheen, President George W Bush, David Beckham, Robert Downey Jr., Lionel Messi, and many more have joined the ice cold action. Apart from doing the challenge many people have also donated generously to the ALS association. In a surprise twist Charlie Sheen dumped a bucket of money on his head instead of ice water promising to donate $10,000 to the foundation. Due to the popularity of the challenge it has spread to other nations encouraging individuals and celebrities to participate and donate.
The rules of the challenge is simple, after being challenged participants gets 24 hours to dump a bucket of ice water over their head. They also have to film the entire thing and challenge other people to participate. There are two versions of the challenge. One version expects the participants to donate $10 if they complete the challenge and $100 if they fail to complete it within 24 hours. According to the second version of the ice bucket challenge, participants who complete the challenge don’t need to donate at all, while people who fail have to donate something to the foundation.
Although the challenge has gone viral with thousands of people participating worldwide, it also received a bit of criticism. Few people believe that the ice bucket challenge takes the attention away from the real problem and it does very little to spread awareness. As the challenge itself pardons the participants from donating, some also believe the challenge has become a fun way of getting out of donating anything. Some environmentalists have also protested against the wastage of usable fresh water. All criticisms aside, the ALS association was able to raise $41.8 million since the start of the challenge. That’s more than double the $19 million fund the association was able to gather last year. Therefore, some people may protest that ice buckets has nothing to do with ALS, but at the end of the day has proven itself to be one of the most successful disease related campaigns ever. As far as awareness goes, in Facebook alone over 1.2 million videos were uploaded since early June this year. It has also united thousands of people to spread awareness and fight against the terrible Lou Gehrig’s disease. Before the challenge started, Lou Gehrig’s disease or ALS was only known by doctors and patients who suffered from it. Average Americans had no clue about the disease and thus had no cause for donating for the same. The challenge has proven itself to be a fun way of educating people and encouraging them to donate. This increasing awareness is surely encouraging researchers to come up ideas and techniques to make lives of the ALS patients better and even possibly come up with a cure in the future.
Thanks to the popularity of the challenge thousands of dollars are donated to ALS foundation every day. However, the money has no use if it’s not utilized to find a proper cure and bettering the lives of the affected. This is exactly why one of the major priorities of the ALS association is to fund research which can lead to the development of a cure. The money gathered from the donation goes to fund new groundbreaking research labs located all across the globe. Currently the organization funds 98 active research projects that are working relentlessly to find cure for the disease. Recently the organization announced its intent to donate $3.5 million to fund 21 new projects which will be lead by some of the best scientists in the planet. Some of the most significant discoveries made by ALS researchers were only possible due to the funds donated by the association. Apart from funding research projects the ALS association also makes it a priority to support people suffering from ALS. The portions of the funds gathered goes to buying medical equipment and organizing local level support groups.