ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raises awareness, leads to donations

Deanna Huffman and Deanna Huffman

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS for short, is the progressive, neurodegenerative disease behind the nation’s latest fad: The Ice Bucket Challenge.

At first, I found the recordings of people completing the chilly challenge to be nothing more than mildly annoying, but as its popularity skyrocketed and even celebrities jumped on the bandwagon, I had to ask, “Why?”

Why — when approximately 2,000 Palestinians and over 60 Israelis have died in Gaza; when protestors are raging in Ferguson, Missouri over the shooting and killing of an unarmed 18-year-old man and when Sudanese rebels have reportedly shot down a U.N helicopter — are Americans consumed by a challenge that involves dumping buckets of perfectly clean, usable water on their heads?

As some individuals in this world lose sleep worrying about bombs being dropped on their homes, Americans continue dropping buckets of water and ice on their heads.

The entire concept seemed to be a pretentious and insensitive form of “slacktivism” to me. Besides, the ice bucket challenge has received stiff opposition from organizations such as PETA and anti-abortion forces that claim that ALS research includes animal testing, or studies conducted on human embryos.

Perhaps most glaringly obvious is the fact that Americans are wasting water — the very reason actor Matt Damon used toilet water to accept his

challenge.

That being said, I decided to do some research regarding the challenge, and the disease itself. ALS affects approximately 30,000 people in the U.S, while an additional 5,600 people are diagnosed each year. The disease leads to paralysis and is 100 percent fatal.

It robs individuals of their ability to move, while they still maintain the capacity to hear and think. Those suffering from ALS become prisoners inside their own bodies until their vital organs, such as their heart and lungs, shut down

as well.

Unfortunately, there is only one drug approved by the FDA that is used to treat ALS, and it merely extends survival rates 2-3 months. The goal of the ice bucket challenge is to raise money, as well as awareness, and it has done just that. According to ALSA.org, donations have reached an unprecedented amount. Over $94 million has been raised since July 29th, compared to the $2.6 million that was raised during the same period in 2013. The seriousness of the disease is the need to find a cure, and without awareness or sufficient funding, that goal would remain

unachievable.

However, thanks to social media, not only has there been a vast amount of money raised for ALS research, but the public has been made aware and that kind of visibility is

invaluable.

For some, the ice bucket challenge may sound more and more appealing after this week’s scorching temperatures. But what’s important is that there is a monumental crusade sweeping our nation and it has our attention.

After a little bit of research, I feel more receptive to the ice bucket challenge and its purposes, and I find the generosity of so many people to be heartwarming and promising. Though internet fads tend to have a relatively short shelf life, imagine a world in which everyone took on a cause, and grew to be this conscientious of the lives of others.

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