ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: More than just another trend

The ALS ice bucket challenge was created to raise awareness toward finding a cure for those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. According to the ALS Association (ALSA) website, the disease affects approximately 5,600 Americans. ALS causes motor nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord to progressively deteriorate, leading to limited mobility and eventually death.

The ice bucket challenge is used to simulate how a person with ALS feels. People who are nominated must pour ice cold water onto themselves, numbing them momentarily. After they must nominate others and the challengers are asked to donate $10 to ALSA. If the challenge is not accepted, the person must donate $100 instead. Since late July, ALSA has raised $88 million, according to The Huffington Post.

“I have recently been nominated,” said sophomore Rachel Squire. “I’ve decided to do it because it’s [for] a good cause and it seems fun.”

People across the world have been waiting anxiously to be nominated and to spread the challenge to others.

“It’s a snowball effect, word of mouth is one of the most effective tools out there,” said Dominique Smith, Associate Director of Marketing Communications for the Optical Society. “Social media lets the customer speak and promote for you. An individual is more apt to listen to a friend or colleague rather than a company or foundation they don’t even know.”

The Ice Bucket Challenge’s success stems from the incredible rate that trends are passed along in social media. People’s need to share their lives with friends, family, and colleagues allows this challenge to spread to all demographics and onto several different social media platforms.

“It’s a personal and effective way to reach a mass number of people through emotion, which is a main reason why someone would want to donate,” Smith said. “People are put in a position where their egos are challenged, not to mention all the people who like to put themselves on camera.”

As a result, teens who were previously unaware of ALS now have a connection to the disease.

“I didn’t know about ALS before this whole challenge happened,” sophomore Hannah Hamilton said. “Even if a few people are more informed we’re making an improvement.”

Whether a person wants to be a part of the challenge or not, almost anyone who uses social media will encounter it.

Awareness is definitely needed for the disease. According to Forbes, only two in 100,000 people contract the disease, so most pharmaceutical companies are not rushing to fund its research projects.

The enormous response in donations that have gone to ALSA makes people wonder where their money will go. ALSA CEO Barbara Newhouse gives Forbes her answer; “invest[ing] prudently in helping people with ALS…, their families, and caregivers in the battle against the disease… [will] improve and ultimately save lives.”

Some may think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is just another fad, but it has already impacted millions of people. Whether it educated someone who was unaware of the disease or brought extra support to a family dealing with ALS, the effects of this trending challenge will be lasting.