By now the vast majority of society has heard of the latest trend called the Ice Bucket Challenge. The Ice Bucket Challenge is an activity that consists of a person dumping a bucket of ice cold water over their heads.
As silly as this might sound to some, the reason behind this is to raise public awareness on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
ALS is a rapidly progressive and fatal neurological disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This results in difficulty breathing, swallowing, speaking and the ability to control voluntary muscle movement.
Many of us cannot begin to fathom the thought of what people with ALS must be going through or feeling, knowing that their life expectancy can average from two to five years from the time of diagnosis.
According to who you ask, one set of rules for the Ice Bucket Challenge is that a person must either donate $100 to an ALS charity of their choice or dump a bucket of ice cold water over their heads. From there, they must nominate other people to do the challenge, which they have 24 hours to complete.
In the recent months, the Ice Bucket Challenge has become increasingly popular not just amongst people but with celebrities, politicians, and athletes.
Famous figures such as Justin Timberlake, Tom Cruise, Tina Fey and Will Smith are seen on social media performing the challenge. It is no surprise that various people have jumped on the bandwagon to do the same.
However, some celebrities have opted out after being challenged. Zachary Quinto declined the challenge as he mentioned that California was going through a drought and the need for clean water in developing countries. Pamela Anderson also opted out, stating that she did not approve of the experimentation on animals for ALS research. Carey Hart refused to do the challenge as he found it annoying that people were obsessed with the challenge and forgetting the real reason behind it.
This is not about criticizing the Ice Bucket Challenge because in part, it does what it set out to do, to raise awareness about ALS.
In less than one month alone since the trend went viral, the ALS Association has raised over $41.8 million in hopes of finding a cure for the estimated 5,600 people in the United States who are diagnosed with ALS each year. The ALSA has currently raised $100 million in total.
However according to www.vox.com, an article was recently released that included a statistics chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that showed the difference between money raised for a disease and which disease caused the most deaths in the U.S. ALS was one of the top four to raise the most money for the cause yet it was at the bottom of the list for most deaths, with heart disease being number one. The chart also shows that more people die of diabetes or from suicide than ALS, yet funding for diabetes and suicide are at the bottom of the list.
Should charities for heart disease, diabetes or suicide prevention create their own trend to raise more awareness and funds for research? Will this help them get noticed by people and cause an incline in donations?
Here is the brazen reality. How many people are actually aware of what ALS is? How many people are actually doing the Ice Bucket Challenge for the cause and not because it is some cool thing to do? What happens when the Ice Bucket Challenge fades out? Will people still be donating to the cause? Or will the ALSA see a decline in funds?
It will always be considered humane and generous to donate to any charity and that is what people need to consider, to give without an incentive. Just donate. Whether it is for the funding of ALS research or another disease that people will battle. Because if you are pouring a bucket of ice cold water over your head just so you can post the video on YouTube, Facebook or Twitter and not donating, then what is the point you are trying to make? Would it not be wiser to conserve water in a time of drought and just give the money?
It is unfortunate that one day, not all but many people will look back and reminisce on the Ice Bucket Challenge and categorize it in pop culture under the same trend as the Harlem Shake or YOLO instead of what it was really trying to signify.