Why the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge matters


Opinion Editor

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We’ve all been exposed to it. Whether it’s you cringing as you see the notification of your friend challenging you on various social media or maybe you secretly wishing someone would nominate you already, the Ayotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge has found its way into our lives.  ALS took the social media world by storm, showing us a type of campaign we haven’t experienced before.

For those of you who are not so keen on social media, I will explain the basic idea of the ALS organization and the Ice Bucket Challenge.  Around 30,000 Americans have ALS, also known as Lou Gehig’s disease. The disease attacks nerve cells and eventually leads to paralysis.  As of now, there is no cure available.

While the initiation of the Ice Bucket Challenge has been connected to multiple past sources, it is evident that Peter Frates, a former caption of the Boston College baseball team, who became diagnosed with ALS helped start the social media phenomena. In mid-July, he started a social media campaign with him and his family pouring a bucket of ice over his head at Fenway Park. The idea of pouring a bucket of ice water over your head is meant to mirror the feeling that occurs when the nervous system is attacked.

This sparked fellow colleagues, sports teams, celebrities and various other organizations to take on the challenge.

The challenge is simple. Once someone posts a video of them nominating you, you have 24 hours to pour a bucket of ice over your head and  nominate others, or you have to donate $100 to the ALS organization. You can also choose to complete the challenge and still donate to the cause.

Well, I will admit that when I got my nomination from my friend, my initial thought was, “Do I really have to do this…?” I didn’t understand how pouring one huge bucket of ice water over my head would help the ALS foundation.

Then I took the time to look at the benefits of the campaign and looked into the money raised. I realized it was more than me just getting my hair wet and feeling completely frozen for a couple minutes. When I completed the challenge and then proceeded to nominate my friends, I also aided in helping the campaign grow as well as the awareness of the real cause.

The result has been nothing but positive and game changing for future campaigns. For one, the amount of publicity it brought to ALS and the organization is incomparable to any other social media campaign because we were actively engaging ourselves.

But it was more than just a fun trending fad. The organization has stated that it has raised over $100 million, which topples last year’s $2.8 million raised during the same time.

While the ALS organization cannot specifically provide a breakdown of the funds at the present time, they commit that their top priorities are first and foremost to patients and their families

So whether you felt the numbness of pouring a freezing bucket of ice on your head, donated to the cause or just laughed at the videos of people completing the challenge, you were part of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge movement that shifted the way in which we think about social media campaigns.