Trending for a Cause: Ice Bucket Challenge

By: Gina Mason

Over the last month or so, you probably have seen some unusual videos of people pouring ice cold water over their heads on Facebook and Twitter (and it’s not because it has been a hot summer). This trend seems to be gaining traction with everyone from regular Joes to celebrities and athletes like Martha Stewart and Matt Ryan. Although what may seem like an unusual undertaking, this “Ice Bucket Challenge” is actually creating an incredible amount of awareness for a tremendous cause, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, aka ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

According to the ALS Association, “Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.” About 5,600 people in the US are diagnosed with the disease each year (about two per 100,000 people).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” it has been a viral sensation of people pouring ice water over their heads and calling out their friends by telling them they have 24 hours to complete the challenge or they have to donate $100 dollars to ALS. The Ice Bucket Challenge started in July with former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates who was diagnosed was ALS in 2012. Pete, who is now wheelchair bound, decided to challenge his friends and family to douse themselves with ice water in hopes of creating awareness of the disease. However, his friendly challenge has become much bigger than expected.

This challenge has spread like wildfire on social media and most importantly, according the ALS Association’s national president, Barbara Newhouse, “donations to the national office [have] surged.” She noted that in the last ten days they have “received $160,000 in donations from $14,480 [they received] during the same period a year ago. That’s not counting donations to chapter offices around the country.”
Also, this week a mass Ice Bucket Challenge took place in Boston’s Copley Square where 200 people cooled off for the cause. According to Boston.com, in order to keep up the momentum, the city of Boston challenged New York, Los Angeles and Chicago to take their own Ice Bucket Challenges, so time will tell how many more will get involved.
Want to do your own #IceBucketChallenge? Here are some tips from Mashable.com to create your own:
1. Fill up a nice big bucket of ice water. The colder, the better.
2. Grab a friend to record you on a phone or camera. (Your video should mention
Strike Out ALS for Pete Frates, Quinn For The Win or Ice Bucket Challenge.)
3. Pour the bucket of ice water on your head. Pro tip: Have some towels handy.
4. Post the video on social media. Then, call out three friends who you challenge to
do it next.

Many participants have also been using the hashtags #icebucketchallenge, #StrikeOutALS and #QuinnForTheWin in their posts.” The Ice Bucket Challenge is one of those instances where you can appreciate the power of social media. Something as simple as pouring ice water over your head has turned into a viral sensation and has brought a tremendous amount of attention to such a deserving cause. It is truly wonderful to see so many people getting involved and I hope this challenge gains international attention.

I think I am ready to take my Ice Bucket Challenge, are you?
For more information about Pete Frates and ALS, check out the links below:
http://petefrates.com/about_pete.html
http://www.als.org/

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like

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