The Ice Bucket Challenge

“Who knew all it would take was a bag of ice and a bucket?”

Here’s A Story To Brighten Your Day After A Tough News Week

A challenge that started among a group of friends to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease, has taken social media by storm and now includes among its participants the likes of Martha Stewart, Mark Zuckerberg, and Senator Cory Booker.

The rules of the Ice Bucket Challenge are simple: Players have 24 hours to either pour a bucket of ice cold water over their head on camera or contribute money to an organization working to fight ALS. After they’ve made their decision, they appoint three more people to do the same.

The videos have taken Facebook by storm. And according to the Wall Street Journal, there have been 118,000 tweets using the hashtag #IceBucketChallenge.

Some have pushed back on the challenge, saying there “must be a better way to accomplish the same thing without encouraging people to do a little pretend suffering.” But this is not just another example of “clicktivism” that doesn’t amount to much substantial. As of yesterday, the ALS Association had raised $7.6 million in donations in two weeks. That’s over five times more than the $1.4 million they raised dring the same two week period last year, and includes an astonishing 145,918 new donors.

ALS causes muscle spasms, decrease in muscle mass, difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and breathing, and eventually paralysis. Most people who suffer from ALS — more than 12,000 people of various racial and ethnic backgrounds in the United States — usually succumb to respiratory problems within three to five years of showing symptoms. There is no cure.

“It’s very difficult to fundraise because most people have never heard of ALS and it’s a very complex disease to discuss and explain,” said Lance Slaughter, head of fundraising for the ALS Association. “We don’t have survivors of this disease.”

“Who knew all it would take was a bag of ice and a bucket?” said John Frates, father of Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball captain who developed ALS two years ago and helped start to start the challenge in July. “This is a little bit of discomfort for a second, but it’s a lifetime of challenges for people with ALS.”

So if you haven’t been challenged yet, stay on the lookout.

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