The latest trend on social media is doing well by doing good – raising money for ALS research, and the ProQuest Seattle office recently took the challenge (see photos).
ALS, or “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death.” – ALS website
Of course, there is current research being done on this terrible disease, but it’s tough for those who do the research to get a lot of financial support, and those who suffer from it can’t always do a lot of fundraising or awareness events. “… The obstacles facing ALS researchers and fundraisers are formidable, in part because the population suffering from the disease at any given time is relatively small. Currently, roughly 30,000 people in the United States are suffering from ALS in various stages. That number is a testament to just how ruthless the disease is. The average life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years after diagnosis, said Carol Hamilton, director of development for ALSTDI. As a result, ALS sufferers don't have a chance to build the community required to make a strong, consistent argument for increased funding.” [ESPN].
The idea for the ice bucket challenge is widely attributed to Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with the disease at 29. His emotional story is here. (The obvious question – did Pete himself ever do the ice bucket challenge? Yes, he did, on August 14, at Fenway Park, see photo).
What’s the ice bucket and cold water for? Some say it began with sports stars challenging each other to duplicate the traditional post-football game prank, “dump the sports drink container over the head of the coach.” Others say the cold water represents the shriveling nerve cells and paralysis that a person with ALS feels.
The Chicago Tribune posted an op-ed that supported the pro-athlete theory: “Rather, it came from a dare that was circulating among a group of pro athletes, including golfer Greg Norman and motorcycle racer Jeremy McGrath. Those who declined the ice bath were compelled to give $100 to a charity of the challenger's choice.”
However it began, it’s certainly gone viral, and has raised millions. The ESPN blog post noted that, as of August 20, “According to the ALS Association, in the two-week span -- July 29 to Aug. 14 -- after the Ice Bucket Challenge began, almost 146,000 new donors have come on board. During that time frame, $7.6 million was donated to the ALS Association's various chapters, compared with $1.4 million during the same period in 2013. The national office was particularly flush, receiving $5.5 million of those donations, compared with $32,000 in the same period last year.”
By August 22, [from the New York Times:] “The [ALS Association] said Thursday morning that it had received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 until Aug. 21…. The average gift size from July 29 until Aug. 21 was $46.25, with the largest donation so far being a $100,000 individual check…”
According to the ALS website, over $90 million had been raised as of August 27. That's a lot of cold people!
For those not inclined to dump freezing water on themselves, there’s the hashtag #NoIceBucketChallenge, where you simply make a donation, either to ALS or another organization of your choice, and ask friends to do the same.
Have you taken the #ALSIceBucketChallenge?