August 19, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013
Seems I can’t look up lately without seeing a bucket of ice water come tumbling down. Well, figuratively speaking of course.
The ESPN crew, the NFLToday crew (ah, yes, nothing says home entertainment like the rotund Chris Berman with a wet t-shirt and shorts), Brad Gilbert on ATP tennis (a huge Gatorade bucket doused on him with an assist from none other than the great Roger Federer), Ben “Batman” Affleck, even some dude (possibly Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander) dousing Kate Upton (who may or may not be his girlfriend). At least I think the last one was for charity.
Martha Stewart was doused though insisted on using a designer bucket that was part of her gardening line of items available at well, wherever her stuff is available at.
And the other morning Kelly Ripa was doused but being rather diminutive I swear the water missed her and splashed the much larger, more robust Michael Strahan.
Justin Timberlake, Emily Rossum, more celebrities too numerous to mention here, even President Obama was given the ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge by Ethel Kennedy whose own brood of Kennedys successfully endured the icy challenge the day before. Mr. Obama declined to get publicly soaked but promised to donate anyways.
Okay, but if not I am telling Michelle on you Mr. President and I’m guessing that will be worse than any ice-bucket dousing.
Even my neighbor doused himself and he never does anything trendy (turns out he just mowed his lawn and was just really hot, and had no idea about the challenge).
So, besides loads of Americans wanting to “self-cool” off in the summer heat, what is this ice-bucket challenge all about?
In 2012, a young and rising captain of the Boston College baseball team, Pete Frates, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) disease, better known as the Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Ironically, named after another baseball player, legendary NY Yankee Lou Gehrig.
In an effort to continue to find a cure for this debilitating and incurable disease, the ALS Association in collaboration with friends and former teammates of Pete started the ice-bucket challenge. The premise is simple-You douse yourself or have a willing assistant, douse you with icy water (the more ice the better). After surviving the soaking, you then can issue a challenge of your own. Sort of like “tag, you’re it” but for a good cause.
And, yes, be prepared to “pony up” at least $100.00 per soaking.
From there, largely due to social media and images uploaded to twitter accounts showing the “proof” of the soakings and encouraging others to join in the icy fun, a fundraising movement was born.
And man has this baby grown up fast.
Between July 29th and August 18th of this summer, the ALS Association has been flooded with donations. Increasing from $1.2 million in the same period last year to a whopping $4.2 million in donations. The Boston Chapter alone where Pete lived and played his baseball saw an increase from $25,000 last summer to over a million this summer.
Seems the ice-bucket challenge is the hot event of this summer.
As the president and CEO of the ALS, Ms. Barbara Newhouse puts it, “We have never seen anything like this in the history of the disease.”
But like with any phenomenon for good or ill, there seems to be the inevitable backlash. recently, there have been a number of critics and commentators who now argue that the challenge is potentially hazardous and to a certain percentage of the population may cause more lasting harm than just a temporary “brain freeze.” And some critics suggest that the whole campaign seems to make light of a very serious disease.
The disease itself of course is no joke. ALS attacks the central nervous cells of the body and controls the voluntary muscle movements despite leaving the person’s mental capacity largely intact. In Pete’s case he has literally no voluntary movement ability on his own. He is married and his wife and he are expecting the birth of their first child next month. Typically, once diagnosed, ALS carriers are given 2-5 years to live with much of that time being wheelchair bound or worse.
So, does the ice-bucket challenge place too much emphasis on who is being doused, which celebrity is doing the dousing and which new movie or Netflix show they also “happen” to promote once they dry off a bit?
Are we losing sight of the water for all the ice cubes?
I have been involved in Non-Profits now for over 15 years and have spent a good deal of that time in fundraising, copywriting and trying to raise awareness of a number of causes in fun and creative ways.
It’s hard from a fundraising and pure visibility perspective to not welcome that cold, icy soaking if you are working on behalf of ALS or have friends or family who suffer from this horrific disease.
The real key will be once this summer’s Ice-Bucket Challenge evaporates a bit will ALS advocates continue to find new and even more innovative ways to raise funds and manage those funds effectively to ultimately find a cure.
Because honestly, unless those other two things happen then we will remember the ice-bucket challenge and forget the reason we did it in the first place. And that too, will be tragic.
As Pete was fond of saying to his teammates, “Go big or go home.”
Here’s to America going big when it comes to the challenge and sending the ALS disease home for good far from any more victims.
For more on ALS and what you can do, visit the ALS Association website at http://www.alsa.org