Consider yourself officially challenged to take part in the viral trend making a phenomenal splash around the world. We nominate you for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. You now have two choices: Donate $100 for ALS research or post a video of yourself dumping a bucket of ice water over your head and donate any amount you choose. You have 24 hours to do either. Are you up for the challenge?
To perform the challenge, gather a bucket filled with ice and cold water, a device to capture and upload your performance and a big, fluffy towel. Few people mention this, but make sure you use small bits of ice instead of large cubes; after all, knocking yourself unconscious isn’t the goal of the challenge.
Keep your video short, but begin by recording your name, the name of the person who challenged you, an official acceptance of the challenge, the names of three people you nominate for the challenge and a mention that you will be donating to ALSA in addition to soaking yourself. After stating the information, take a deep breath to prepare for a deluge of icy water to pour over your head. You could pour the bucket yourself, or you could put a friend to work because the fun increases when you have someone with whom to share the laughs. Finally, upload your experience to share online and be certain the people you nominated know they’ve been challenged.
Are you wondering what ice water has to do with ALS? In reaction to – or possibly escape from – the ice water, your muscles tighten and contract. This gives you a tiny glimpse, really only a blink, of living with ALS. The neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, weakens muscles and drastically and increasingly diminishes physical function. Nerve cells that control voluntary muscle movement die, so muscles eventually waste away. Over time, ALS takes away the ability to perform simple functions such as breathing, eating, sleeping and talking. A cure doesn’t exist for ALS, and all cases end in death, which usually occurs between two and five years after diagnosis.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved only one medication, riluzole, for ALS. Unfortunately, the drug slows the disease’s progression by only a few precious months and only in some people. Between the bleak outcome and the absence of medication, you can clearly see the necessity for research into the disease and possible future treatments.
By taking up the challenge, you’re helping on three levels: You’re donating, spreading awareness and asking other people to do the same. The Ice Bucket Challenge is simple, but it’s working. Within one month, the ALS Association received $88.5 million in donations, which is leaps beyond the $2.6 million they received during the same period last year; additionally, people who have never before heard of the disease are now talking about it and spreading awareness even further.
We should mention, however, that certain people should not take up the challenge. A blast of frigid water pouring over the head could be harmful to the elderly, young children and people with certain health issues including heart conditions. Donations, though, can be made by everybody. Make your donations directly through the ALS Association website.
Will you take up the challenge? We recommend doing so while it’s still warm because we don’t think dumping ice water over your head during winter counts toward membership in the polar bear club.