5 Things that We’ve Learned from the Ice Bucket Challenge

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By Robert Spencer

It’s blowing up our newsfeeds. Seriously. Everyone is dumping buckets of ice water over their heads: celebrities, athletes, your next door neighbors, your fifth grade English teachers, etc. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been met with both criticism and praise. Donations (and ice water) have been flooding ALS research and awareness.

But do you know what ALS is? Were you one of the many that just poured water over your head so that you could nominate your hot neighbor (wet t-shirt contest for charity anyone?). Well, it’s time to stop being a jerk. Check out these facts about ASL and

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#1) What is ALS?

ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is otherwise known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”. According to the ALSA.org website,

“is a progressive neurodegernerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”

When you add the word “degenerative” to the description of a disease, it is generally a synonym for “suffering”. Degenerative means slow, progressive, (normally) irreversible deterioration. Normally it means that you lose the function of major organs. It is a horrible way to live out the rest of your years. That is why diseases like ALS and Alzheimers is so difficult.

ALS specifically targets motor neurons that run up and down your spine. As these neurons die out, your body slowly finds that you won’t be able to control your body. You slowly find that you won’t be able to move certain muscles and as you lose that control, you will find it harder to move other muscles.

It is hard to imagine not being able to move. Do this quick exercise to see just what it’s like. Grab a chair. Sit in it. Now you’re not allowed to move (you are only allowed to move your eyes and blink) for fifteen minutes. That is just the tiniest comparison to what someone with ALS has to go through.

Want another way to picture what people with ALS are going through? Strap weights to your muscles and walk around for a day. I don’t mean 2 pound ankle weights. I mean 20 pounds to your arm. Now try to use it all day.

#2) Where Does that Research Money Go?

The money goes to the ALSA (the ALS Association). First let me emphasize the fact that the challenge states that you either dump a bucket of ice water on yourself or donate $100 to the ALSA and you should also nominate more people to take the challenge after you choose your path.

While the rules state that you can do one or the other, it is apparent that a lot of people are doing both because the ALSA totaled more than $53 million from July 29th to August 21st. This time last year, they had only raised $2.2 million.

Other than research, the money that is donated to the ALSA also helps to provide support and services (care services) to people who suffer from ALS and their loving families. This includes support groups, equipment that aid to prolong their life and independence, and also respite grants.

#3) Can I Get ALS?

Scientists and researchers are working hard to figure out the cause for ALS, which is still undetermined. They don’t know why certain people get ALS and why some people don’t. That is one of the points of research.

#4) How Can I Help the Cause?

If you’re looking to donate some money to the cause, check out their donation page
here. If you’re looking to do something else for the cause, you can also participate in the Walk to Defeat ALS. You can also host your own event in order to support the ALSA. You can have a community garage sale, put up a donation jar in your business or even bake some brownies for the cause.

#5) How Can I Promote A Cause Like That?

Social media has really helped the Ice Bucket Challenge take off. If you have a cause that you would like to promote, you can post challenges on Facebook and YouTube. You can also promote on websites like Endorse For a Cause or Six Degrees.com.

Have you ever played the game “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”? The idea behind it is that everyone in the world is connected to each other (especially actor Kevin Bacon who seems to have worked with everyone in Hollywood). The website, SixDegrees.com, is based on the same principal. Kevin Bacon started this site with the hopes that he can connect people with the fundraising causes that they feel passionate about.

Like it or hate it, the Ice Bucket Challenge is doing exactly what was intended: raising money and awareness for ALS and ALS research.

Now it’s your turn. Do you know someone who is going through ALS? Have you done the Ice Bucket Challenge? What do you think about it? If you had the resources, what charity or good cause would you promote? Have some tips, ideas, thoughts, or questions? Write them down in the comment section below and chat with the other readers.