Thousands of people have shared and posted their videos of doing the ALS ice bucket challenge since it started on July 29, 2014. But how many of them can tell you what ALS even stands for?
Although it is great that there has been over $90 million raised in less than a month to fund research for ALS, how much awareness is the ice bucket challenge really bringing when most participants still have no clue what ALS means.
ALS, for those who still do not know, stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in a person’s spinal cord and brain and can lead to a person becoming paralyzed.
Fundraising is nothing new to the world of medical disease research. It is a very new idea to try to make videos that go viral to raise money though. In the case of the ALS ice bucket challenge, the organization has succeeded in raising funds for more research, but that is about all it has done.
According to alsa.org, The ALS Association’s yearly fundraiser is the Walk to Defeat ALS and it is hosted in over 170 cities in the U.S. The walks run from February to November each year. In addition, there are over 80,000 participants who registered for walks this year – this number includes both walks that have passed already and the upcoming walks for 2014. While this number might seem high, it is significantly lower than the number of participants two years ago. This would indicate that although fundraising might be up due to the ice bucket challenge, participation and awareness is down.
Many people have also come to notice that many participants doing the ice bucket challenge are doing it for all the wrong reasons. Some just want to look like they are doing a good thing for others, when in actuality the just made the video and did not donate. Others are doing the challenge to look cool or hot on social media by being drenched in water, and they are also not donating to the cause.
“I did not donate (to ALS), but I decided to do the challenge to bring some awareness to this illness. I like a challenge and it sure was a bit of a cold one,” said Rebecca Schild, FSC junior and recent participant in the ALS ice bucket challenge.
The ice bucket challenge has also wasted an estimated 5 million+ gallons of water. The ALS Association asks participants in areas that are short on water that they repurpose the water used during the challenge, but most participants are not following this request. They are throwing water on their heads and wasting useable drinking water that many people consider a privilege to have in the first place.
After seeing all the money donated to one cause in less than a month, it raises the question as to why doesn’t this happen all the time? If we all can band together to raise that much money through social media in a little over three weeks it lends the question as to what else can we do? There unfortunately are thousands of other diseases out there that also need money to fund research. It would bode us well if we all remember that is alright to go against the current trend, especially when that means donating and raising awareness for other causes besides ALS because they all could use help and you wouldn’t have to waste water and dumb buckets of ice on your head.