Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thoughts on the #IceBucketChallenge

So there's this thing that has gone viral.  People post a video stating that they have been challenged and they are challnging 2 or 3 other people to dump a bucket of ice water over their heads.  They say it is in support of ALS research and funding.

I've seen a lot of videos.  I've seen a lot of friends do the videos.  I've seen a lot of people complaining about or making fun of people doing the videos.

So here are a few thoughts from me about it.  Because my opinion is obviously very important.  Which is why I blog.

1. It *does* raise awareness.

There are a lot more people talking about ALS.  Most people can't tell you that it's Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.  But more people have heard of "ALS" or "Lou Gehrig's Disease" now than even a few weeks ago.  If people dumping ice water on their heads means that more people are talking about ALS and more people are sharing their own exxperiences with ALS, it's definitely a positive thing.

2. It *is* raising money.

I'm just going to share what the ALS Association is sharing.  "Between July 29 and today, August 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an astonishing $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year."

3. I don't believe it's taking away from other charitable causes.

I'll just be honest... I don't think the majority of Americans have a budget that includes charitable giving to specific charities on a regular basis.  I think most Americans don't give charitably or, if they do budget for it, it's done more as a general "where should I give this week" type of thing.  I think a lot of fundraising happens because people ask, not because the majority of folks are lining up to hand over their money.  So for anyone to think that ALS is getting money that someone had planned to give elsewhere is just silly.  Plus, if you want to make the challenge about ALS and some other charity - go for it.  If you want to do the challenge and ask people to support a different charity altogether - go for it!

4. If you don't like it... don't participate.

I will say that when I first started to see the videos, I didn't get it.  I really didn't understand the point.  But then I watched more and learned more.  And I remembered my next door neighbor who passed from ALS a few years ago.  And I remember what it did to him... he had been a very active and busy man and ALS robbed him of his life before he was literally robbed of his life.  It was heartbreaking.  When I got challenged by a friend... I went and spoke to my neighbor about it.  I told her what was happening with these videos and that I'd like to make a donation in her husband's memory to whatever organization she chose.  Maybe the ALS Association was best.  Maybe there was a local group that helped them most.  Maybe the hospital where he was treated.  Whatever she would have come up with was fine by me.  She was very touched by the gesture and she chose the local chapter of the ALS Association.

So before you poke fun or get all eye roll-y or sarcastic about people doing the challenge, keep in mind that it means something to people who are living with ALS and it means something to people who have been imapcted by ALS.  Keep in mind that money is being raised.  That awareness of ALS is growing.

It isn't up to you to decide if someone else has donated or not.  It isn't up to you to judge if someone is doing the challenge for the right reason or not.

It's just one of those things that you either participate and be part of it... make it your own if you so choose... or just slide on past in your news feed.  Do it and make a difference - for ALS or some other cause.  Or don't do it and there is no harm, no foul.  But there is no reason to slam other people who are participating and who are choosing to make some sort of a difference.

Edited Aug 20 to add:

I also just learned that ALS is very similar to SMA (which is what Scarlett has - she's my I Run 4 Buddy).  It's like ALS is for adults and SMA is for kids.  Scarlett's very incredible mom posted these tidbits on Facebook the other day - and it just drove home the importance of making people aware of ALS and SMA and what it's like to live with it.  What it might be like to be trapped inside your body.  If you would like to do the ice bucket challenge... or you just want to donate... please visit

sig jan 2014 photo owlsig.jpg


Unknown said...

Yes, it does raise awareness. It also gets people to take on a challenge just to show they are up to it. Great blog.

Karen M. Peterson said...

When I first heard about the challenge, I thought it was really stupid. But when I heard how much money they've raised for ALS compared to this time last year, I was floored! I say anything that raises awareness and gets people donating to a good cause is a good thing!

mimbles said...

Have you seen the 501st Legion's response, it's kinda awesome.

Michelle@Gotchababy said...

Well said. It's raised awareness and funds for a truly horrifying disease. More power to them, personally.

Ann-Marie said...

Wow, those Empathetic Experiences are really impactful. Great post!