“Ice Bucket Challenge” – Is it Actually Doing Good?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $9.5 million for research so far.
Image: Shutterstock

If you frequent social media, it’s not hard to find someone doing the Ice Bucket Challenge. All participants are capturing the moment when they pour a bucket of ice water over their heads for the sake of promoting awareness for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The idea of the challenge is to take a bucket of ice water, dump it over your head, record and post the video and challenge other people to do it. If you accept the challenge, you donate $10 to ALS research – and if you don’t, you’re supposed to donate $100.

And participants aren’t limited to regular Joes. Famous faces, including Bill Gates, John Elway, and Martha Stewart have also participated. But does the challenge actually do anything? Is it mostly just for show, or are people following up and actually donating?

The good news is, the challenge actually seems to be helping. As of last Friday, the ALS Association had received $9.5 million in donations—compared to $1.6 million during the same time period last year (June 29th to August 15th).

“We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease,” said Barbara Newhouse, President and CEO of The ALS Association. “We couldn’t be more thrilled with the level of compassion, generosity and sense of humor that people are exhibiting as they take part in this impactful viral initiative.”

Former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates used the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s disease in Boston. Frates also struggles with ALS and at 29 now is paralyzed, eats through a feeding tube, and cannot talk. His parents joined 200 other people earlier this month and soaked themselves with the frigid water in Copley Square.

City Councilor Tito Jackson wore a suit and tie to the event but didn’t shy away from the challenge. “This is a little bit of discomfort for a second,” he said, “but it’s a lifetime of challenges for people with ALS.”

The event has lit up across the nation like wildfire since it began July 29th, with more than 176,000 people tweeting about it in just the last week alone.

Have you taken the challenge?

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