This summer we’ve all been assaulted with videos of the Ice Bucket Challenge on every possible form of social media. My daughter finds them hysterical and can’t get enough of videos where children dump buckets of water over their parent’s head (and often whack them with the bucket). At first I rolled my eyes at the latest social media fad to put videos of yourself online. For over a week I had no idea there was a charitable effort involved because none of the videos I saw mentioned it. This campaign has received much criticism for that reason.
I don’t watch the Today Show, so I missed Matt Lauer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that brought the phenomenon to mainstream audiences and explained the reason behind the challenge. I finally figured out what was going on when I stumbled across this ESPN video about Peter Frates, a 29 year old former Division 1 college athlete, Captain of the Boston College Baseball Team, who was recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Further online research uncovered the actual rules of this challenge (which I haven’t heard mentioned in any of the hundreds of videos I’ve seen):
Within 24 hours of being challenged, participants are to video record themselves in continuous footage. First, they are to announce their acceptance of the challenge followed by pouring ice into a bucket of water. The bucket is then to be lifted overhead and poured over the participant’s head. Then the participant can call out a challenge to other people. The participant is expected to donate $10 if they have poured the ice water over their head or donate $100 if they have not.
This challenge is an awesome fundraising campaign. According to NBC News, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $42 million and counting for the ALS Association. Please remember the reason for this challenge when you make your videos. Awareness, and donations, are only raised if you mention ALS and direct viewers to the ALS Association website where they can make a donation.
Another way to support medical research is to contact your representatives in Congress and demand a stop to cutting the National Institutes of Health budget. NIH pays out $30 billion a year for medical research, dwarfing private donations. While the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has had amazing results, it won’t capture America’s attention forever. This important medical research must continue to be funded long term if we hope to someday find a cure for ALS and many other diseases.
I’ve made my donation to the ALS Association, so there’s no need to challenge me. Even closer to my heart is the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, which I also contribute to in honor of my grandma. I challenge all of you to make a charitable donation to the medical research foundation of your choice. No ice buckets required.