Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS

You've all heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge by now. If not, you might be living under a rock. This started suddenly and went viral faster than I could have imagined. I was turned off by the idea, like many people still are. The challenge is this...either dump a bucket of ice water on your head to raise awareness for ALS, or opt out of the water and donate $100. People have been enraged by the idea that all you have to do is dump water on your head to get out of donating to charity. People are angered that, of all the horrible things going on in the world right now, people are flocking to social media to raise awareness to an already known disease.

I've thought long and hard about this while hoping not to get challenged. When I did get challenged, I had to start to question my hesitancy behind it. I think the biggest problem here is that people are using these challenges as a joke, something that bothers them for a few minutes and then they lead their normal lives while people with ALS are suffering constantly. Yes, people suffer from conditions that have no cures. Yes, there are other horrible things going on in the world. Yes, this challenge is a bit silly. BUT--why are we getting upset with each other for wanting to help others? And honestly, Facebook is full of videos that are much more pointless and stupid than this. At least the basis of this is to help people.

The bottom line is that if you are doing this challenge, you should still be donating. I think the important thing to remember is that most people (especially my age) can't afford to randomly give $100 to a charity. So, if I do the challenge and I donate, say $10, and I nominate three other people to do the same, who then nominate three more people...see what I'm getting at? And it's working! This article on Forbes says, "[...] the ALS Association has since said that it has raised $15.6 million as a result of the challenge, nine times what it normally raises in the same time frame. Another ALS charity, Project ALS, told the Washington Post that its donations were 50 times normal. ALS TDI, another ALS charity, says that has raised $580,000 since the beginning of August, 10 times what it normally receives."

How AWESOME is that?! And let's keep in mind that this has been all over the internet--celebrities are even doing it, and hopefully donating more than the average middle-class citizen.

So, what is ALS? It is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis disease, better known as Lou Gehrig's. It is a neurodegenerative disease that attacks the cells in the brain and spinal cord. Basically, the muscles in the body eventually break down and stop working. Imagine how much effort you put in to move off your couch, walk around the block, even chew and swallow your food. Now imagine if your body slowly lost the ability to do these things, while your mind remains aware of it. That is horrible, confusing, and depressing. And so is the fact that nearly 30,000 Americans have it at any given time.

This information is just a very tiny tidbit of information about one disease. Actually, according to the CDC, the leading cause of death in adults in America is heart disease, followed by cancer. Suicide, stroke, Alzheimer's, diabetes, the flu & pneumonia, chronic lower respiratory diseases, unintentional accidents, and nephritis are also on the list. Don't know what nephritis is? I didn't. It's inflammation of the kidneys and is usually caused by autoimmune disorders. ALL of these things need awareness and funding. While you're at it, look up what's going on in Ferguson or what ISIS is. We all need to be more active in social issues, but we can't all do everything for everything that's happening.

And aside from all of this, there are thousands upon thousands of conditions that people suffer with everyday that are not necessarily fatal. Yeah, I may have dumped water on my head and then continued on with my normal life, but what else can I do? I donated to the cause and educated myself on the issue, and that is what I urge all of you to do. And let's stop the hatred and spread empathy and learning instead, and think of this challenge as a form of solidarity to all of those suffering. Thanks!

Go to http://www.alsa.org/about-als/ to learn more about it!

(P.S. Check out this article about what a family who suffers from ALS thinks about the challenge.)


 


2 comments:

  1. Like you, I had my initial concerns about it just being some silly stunt. Then I read the same article you linked to. Even so, I'm of an age and professional status that I purposefully opted out. I took a video of myself putting my check in the mail.

    One option for people who want to help out with the medical problems of the world but don't necessarily have the funds to spare is blood donation. I started doing it in my younger/poorer days and even if you've lived a life that might preclude you form donating (My wife lived in England during Mad Cow for instance) there is always the option of donating for research.

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  2. That is a great point and a great option for people! Thank you for that. Also, thank you for your donation and the way you decided to raise awareness. The whole point is to give money and help out--the ice bucket thing was just a ploy to get people's attention. Your video does that as well! :)

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