By Nicole Heubusch
Anyone who has been on any social networking site in the past few weeks has probably become familiar with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and has seen videos of friends, families, and celebrities getting a bucket of ice dumped over their heads. This challenge is not only entertaining to watch, but it has also helped to raise over $80 million for ALS.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is the latest of internet crazes and it doesn’t look like it’s slowing down anytime soon. The gist is, an individual gets nominated by someone who just completed the challenge. They then have 24 hours to accept the challenge and if they don’t, they donate $100 to ALS. If the challenge is accepted, they then have to post a video of themselves getting doused with a bucket of ice, and then make a donation of $10 to ALS and nominate three more people for the challenge. This challenge has gone completely viral, and professional athletes and actors are now getting involved.
ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. This disease does not have a cure, and once diagnosed, the patients slowly begin to lose control of their muscle movements, and their life expectancy after being diagnosed is on average two to five years. According to the ALS Association, ALS is responsible for nearly two deaths per hundred thousand individuals annually.
ALS is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Gehrig was a baseball player for the New York Yankees from 1923-1939 who was diagnosed with ALS in 1939 and passed away in 1941.
According to the New York Times in the article titled ‘‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ Has Raised Millions for ALS Association’, the challenge originated with golfer Greg Norman challenging Matt Lauer from The Today Show. They created the challenge before it was tied to ALS, and Lauer made a donation to the Hospice of Palm Beach County and then challenged Brian Williams, Martha Stewart and Howard Stern. Peter Frates, a 29-year-old former basketball player who has been diagnosed with ALS, heard about this and turned it into a fundraiser for ALS. Frates nominated himself, and posted a video on Facebook. It spread throughout Boston and was eventually picked up and made known country wide.
Locally, many people have accepted the challenge, including Congressman Dennis Ross. “The intended purpose of this challenge is to raise awareness in a unique and healthy way. Everyone remembers going to the fair as a kid and seeing their teacher in the dunk tank,” said Ross. “After donating a couple dollars for a good cause, classmates would throw a ball at a target in attempt to submerge their proctor into the water below. This ice bucket challenge reminds me of this same type of fun, engaging way of encouraging others to donate for a good cause. Since July 29th, this ALS ice bucket challenge has raised over $15.6 million dollars whereas last year, ALS research received up to $39,000 in donations. This tactic of using our now viral-loving community has surely worked.”
Ross isn’t the only person in the area who has accepted the challenge. Bonnie Tekampe of Valrico also stepped up to the plate. “It was for a great cause and this is creating a real awareness across the country. I am a rule follower and I always try to follow through,” Tekampe said.
Ashley Blocker of Lithia also participated in the challenge. “I did it because I want to help raise awareness for the ALS Foundation,” Blocker said.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is not only helping to raise money, but awareness as well. Yoly Santos of Valrico decided to learn more about the disease as well as accept the challenge and donate. “At first I was a bit skeptical about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and its actual purpose. Once I did the research, I was educated enough on the subject to know that not only did I have to do the challenge, but I had to donate to such a great cause as well,” said Santos.
Alissa Gutierrez, the spokesperson of the ALS Florida Chapter said, “This ice bucket challenge has truly overwhelmed and amazed all of us. But the reality is that this challenge has been the most attention this disease has had since Lou Gehrig was diagnosed in 1939.”
The Florida Chapter is the only not-for-profit organization solely dedicated to the care of people with ALS in the state. Funds raised support patient care and programs, research, advocacy and awareness efforts. For more information, visit www.alsa.org/fight-als/ice-bucket-challenge.html.