Origins and Effects of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Photo%3A+Anthony+Quintano%2FFlickr
Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

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Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Photo: Anthony Quintano/Flickr

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that over time breaks down your motor functions and central nervous system.

Although there are documents that suggest the illness has been known in the medical community since the mid-1800s, it was brought into the spotlight when beloved Hall of Fame baseball player Lou Gehrig was diagnosed in 1939.

In the summer of 2014, awareness for the disease was raised immensely with a social media phenomenon known as the, ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge consisted of someone who would be nominated by a friend and have 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water on your head and/or donate money to ALS research. They would then nominate other people to take part.

The challenge originated at Boston College where baseball player Pete Frates was diagnosed with the disease in March of 2012. The same night he was diagnosed, he vowed that he would do everything he could to help raise awareness and show the physical destruction the disease actually causes to the general public, according to a report in Forbes.

There was an overwhelming amount of support throughout all of social media and a lot of celebrities participated as well. Some notable participants included George W. Bush, Bill Gates, Tom Cruise, Derek Jeter, Jimmie Johnson, and many more.

It didn’t go without its fair share of criticism, though. Many questioned the way people would go about doing it, saying they were missing the point and that while the focus of the videos were on the ice water, many were skipping out on donating which was the more beneficial part of the challenge.
Others have argued back saying the challenge accomplished what it was supposed to and according to Forbes, over $100 million was raised for ALS research compared to a mere $2.8 million the summer of 2013.

Alexa Guercia, a sophomore at Molloy College; her father has lived with the disease for five years and she described the impact the disease had on her father’s everyday life: “The disease takes everything from you. Your ability to move, talk, eat, and even breathe on your own. You go from being perfectly fine to not being able to pick up a toothbrush.” Alexa also believed that the Ice Bucket Challenge did what it was meant to accomplish. She raised $15,000 over three weeks and said that the challenge helped quadruple the amount of donations sent for ALS research overall.

There is still much more to be learned and done to help find a cure for this devastating disease but this summers Ice Bucket Challenge was a huge step forward in raising awareness for the illness and striking it out altogether.

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