Social media challenge raises money for ALS

Keely Jenkins

The rules are simple: a friend or colleague nominates you, and then you have 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water on your head, donate to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association, or do both.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has recently swept the internet. Upon logging onto Facebook, users’ news feeds are often filled with videos of friends participating in the challenge. Commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease, ALS attacks the nerves in the brain and spinal cord so that those who are diagnosed slowly lose control of their body over a general span of three to five years until they eventually die, according to the ALS Association.

As of press time, the challenge has raised over $110.5 million, compared to the $2.1 million raised in the same amount of time last year.

SENIOR KISMET KUMAR dumps water on seniors  Jacob Zazzeron and Molly Moritzburke for the Ice Bucket Challenge.
SENIOR KISMET KUMAR dumps water on seniors Jacob Zazzeron and Molly Moritzburke for the Ice Bucket Challenge.

According to Charity Navigator, the ALS Association donates 73 percent of its funds to finding a cure. The most recent breakthrough was announced in 2011, when scientists discovered that the leading cause of Lou Gehrig’s disease was a gene mutation. Since then, doctors have been looking for a cure in the realm of stem cell research.

Junior Shelby Cohen, who lost her mother to ALS last May, has participated in the ice bucket challenge. She views the social trend in a positive light.

“Now that people are becoming more aware, it’s reassuring that there can be a cure,” Cohen said. “It was really rough, especially to see someone you love just leaving and you can’t do anything.”

On the other hand, students such as senior Jonathan Evans view the challenge more negatively.

“No one is going to know about ALS in three months, just like what happened with Kony. It’s just a temporary thing,” Evans said. “It’s about what other people think of them [the person participating in the challenge] doing donations and charity.”

A negative aspect of the Ice Bucket Challenge is the amount of water used. An estimated five to six million gallons of water have been dumped on people’s heads as part of the challenge. As a result, the ALS Association has recommended that those living in places with water shortages donate or reuse the water afterwards.

Started and made popular by the Boston College baseball coach Pete Frates, celebrities such as George W. Bush, Justin Timberlake, Oprah Winfrey, and Steven Spielberg have each participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.