By now, I’m assuming most of you have either done the ALS Association’s viral Ice Bucket Challenge or seen video of it flooding your social media. Pun intended. In case you need a refresher, a person who is nominated to take the Ice Bucket Challenge must post a video on social media of themselves pouring a bucket of ice water over their person (in regular pedestrian clothes). They must mention why they are doing this ridiculous activity (to raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association) and nominate more people to take on the challenge. Also they must donate $10 to the ALSA. If one decides to not take on the challenge, they must donate $100 to the ALSA. Either option must be done within 24 hours.
Okay, so let’s back up a bit. This all started when the friends and family of former Boston College baseball player Peter Frates launched an ice bucket challenge campaign towards the end of July. Peter was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, and everyone involved was doing it in hopes to raise money for the ALSA. Since the task involves nominating other people within a small time frame, the challenge quickly spread around the city of Boston. I personally saw it keep popping up on my news feed and then sure enough it spread across the country, reaching my friends here in LA and it seems over the past week, it’s gotten to people in high places. From police to firefighters to entire sports teams to celebs like Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, Tyler Perry (one of my fave videos), Oprah (she has yet to respond to Tyler’s challenge), Mark Zuckerberg, and even Ethel freaking Kennedy, who challenged President Obama – who declined respectfully and donated to the cause.
As the challenge went viral, I noticed that the message of raising funds and awareness for ALS was getting buried by the actual act of dousing yourself in ice water. Yes, the whole point is to get attention by shocking your body to the core, but why even do it if it’s not going to a good cause? That’s dumb. This whole campaign’s point is to raise money. Yesterday I even saw a video of someone in Japan (one of my FB friends was tagged in it) pouring a bucket of ice water over himself and didn’t even say one word. He did, however write a caption to go along with the video which said, “I just wanted to join you!I do not know the reason why we do this. But, I understand that we only have 24 hours left to do this. Please accept my apology if the way I am covered with cold water is inappropriate.” The Ice Bucket Challenge has reached all the way to Asia but he doesn’t even know WHY Americans are doing it? Not only does it make us look stupid and well, ‘Americans’, but it proves all the naysayers right in that people are doing the Ice Bucket Challenge to entertain and for shock value, not for its real cause. Those naysayers include people like this writer for Slate, who proposes people start the “No Ice Bucket Challenge”, in which people skip the ice bucket thing all together and just donate to the ALSA.
I know I’m starting to sound like I’m against this whole thing, but hear me out: here’s the problem with this guy’s No Ice Bucket Challenge pitch – this is already a thing. Anyone, anywhere, can donate money any time to the ALSA. And since it’s an ongoing thing where they seek funds, the organisation (or its supporters) have to constantly come up with creative ways to get people to donate to their cause. It’s why advertising is a thing. For instance, you know a company like Coca-Cola exists, but they have to always have to keep re-inventing ways to entice customers to purchase their product over Pepsi, and in general, just stay in their brains. ALS isn’t necessarily a well known disease and this one simple campaign has already attracted the attention of thousands of people from around the world. So the next time someone hears about ALS (or Lou Gherig’s Disease), they might remember, ‘oh yeah, that had to do with the whole Ice Bucket Challenge thing’, maybe I’ll donate to them that year.
Not only that, but since July 29th, when this whole Challenge really took off, to today (August 15th) the ALSA has raised $9.5 million, and that amount is only going to get bigger as the days go on (like I said, Oprah has yet to respond). For comparison, this same time last year – the ALSA only raised $1.6 million. That statistic alone should prove to the “No Ice Bucket Challenge” people that all of this wasted ice and water was worth it. Stop complaining and look at the facts. Or better yet grab a bucket and put your money where your ice is.