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A&E/Lifestyle

Ice Bucket Mania

charlie sheen

Throughout the month of August, the increasingly popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became a worldwide trend completed by millions.

If you didn’t know already, ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain and spinal cord. Motor neurons throughout the body deteriorate, causing muscle weakness. The patients gradually lose control of their hands, legs, mouth, and eventually their vital organs, resulting in death. This terrifying disease affects  30,000 people in the US, which means it isn’t considered as serious as AIDS or Alzheimer’s, and therefore does not receive as many research funds.

The Ice Bucket Challenge’s rules are to record and post a video of the challenged individuals dumping a bucket of iced water over their head. Afterwards, the individual nominates other people to either participate or donate.

Since this viral trend has crossed over to various countries and raised $94.3 million, critics croppped up. The fact is, a great number of individuals accepting the challenge have no idea what it’s for. The Ice Bucket Challenge has become more of a social media craze than charity support for neurodegenerative research. People are dumping buckets of freezing water on their head just to be “current.”

Celebrities Lance Storm and Pamela Anderson have also criticized the challenge. In a blog post, Storm claims that only 25% of donations fund actual research, while the other 75% finances fundraising, education, and administrative works. Although 25% is still a large portion, the funds, like that of most other charities, will probably end up in the hands of big pharmaceutical companies. Pamela Anderson likewise refuses to complete the challenge due to animal testing allegations. As a PETA supporter, Anderson suggests other, more ethical methods of experimentation – such as advanced computer-modeling techniques.

Still, let’s remember when Kony 2012 went viral, and how social media swayed public opinion from commendation to condemnation. At least the ALS challenge truly educated the general public through the millions of videos and posts concerning the topic. At least the challenge became a source of inspiration for the Rice Bucket Challenge and My Tree Challenge. And at least many ALS patients find hope in the millions of people supporting and donating, telling them that they deserve to be saved too.

Visit http://www.alsa.org/donate to contribute to the cause, but if you feel compelled to do more, you can participate in the many ALS Association (ALSA) walks, raise specific funds for certain ALS patients, or register as an ALSA advocate. Every social media craze has its hitches, but in any case, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge justly demonstrates charity fundraising done right. So go ahead, dump a bucket of iced-water on your head, just as long as you don’t do it for the sake of social acceptance, but rather, to donate to the cause of ALS patients worldwide.

-Katrina Ngo
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