Getting Soaked for the Greater Good. The Ice-Bucket Challenge, ALS and You.


August 19, 2014 by gregrabidoux2013

ice bucket today show

Another somewhat willing “victim.”

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.

ice bucket boston

Bostonians get soaked for ALS. Or maybe to forget the stinky Red Sox this summer?

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).

No matter.

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.

ice bucket PF

BC Captain Pete Frates in better days.

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.

chihuahua w big eyes

Keep that ice away from me amigo or feel my Chihuahua wrath.

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









19 thoughts on “Getting Soaked for the Greater Good. The Ice-Bucket Challenge, ALS and You.

  1. Car-ra B says:

    When I first heard of the ice bucket challenge a few months ago it wasn’t necessarily associated with any particular organization. The idea was to either donate to the charity of your choice or face the cold rush of freezing cold ice/water. I think it is great that it is now being used as a fundraiser for a particular cause. Social media is a broad form of marketing and if this challenge helps to raise money for ALS that is amazing. I hope people are truly participating to help the cause, and not just doing it for the social media likes and/or follows. If your favorite celebrity is participating, great! But the real challenge is more than ice/cold water. Donating/performing the challenge is temporary; becoming a permanent part of the cause will help the ALS Association flourish after the hype of the ice-bucket challenge has died down. It is impressive that ALS has more than tripled its previous year donations, but after this influx of donations, it is imperative that those true to the cause continually help the association flourish. This may require more innovative ideas to keep the associations cause in the spotlight. Hopefully, the funds raised and the attention ALS has been receiving leads to knowledge about prevention and a cure.

  2. Tinisha. S says:

    I understand the struggles of a non-profits when it pertain to fundraising. Honestly I believe that the ALS association would not be able to sustain the fundraising growth performed this summer. Like you mentioned in your blog do people really know why they are donating or do they even care about the caused? Most people are intrigued by the challenge itself and once the spot light is on them they feel obligated to donate or do both challenge and donation. The ice bucket challenge can be a one hit one wonder, or this can be the beginning of a beautiful fundraising career. This fundraiser tacit was the make it or break it moment for this fundraiser and it is hard to top yourself once you reached a peek. I am not saying that it can’t be done, however I strongly believe that this task will be difficult to perform next year.

  3. Jill V says:

    Before I brought up the blog website, I just knew one of the topics was going to be on the ALS ice-bucket challenge. Why, you might ask? Well, I think you’ve already answered the question in the blog material itself…b/c it’s EVERYWHERE!!! I used to get on Facebook and instantly update my feed…just knowing I was going to see something cool from the groups I follow or my niece playing outside. Now though, it’s nothing but water and ice…more water…and more ice.

    I’m not saying that all these challenges haven’t helped this particular association…obviously it has from the amount of donations they’ve received recently as you’ve written in your blog compared to their past; however, I just don’t understand. Why does it take curiosity and acknowledgement of the “I did it” to serve a greater good? Now I know some may donate and donate to organizations on a regular basis and participated in the challenge too just b/c it’s the “thing” to do right now, but I beg to differ that’s the majority.

    I do hope donations continue to rise. I hope that people don’t forget, but more importantly I hope that people in turn know that there are organizations they can donate to everyday that does someone good or this society justice. The thing to do is not to dump ice water on your head, its realizing the need for a thing like donations to happen in the first place.

  4. Khari L says:

    You cannot even get on Facebook without hearing about this ice bucket challenge. We are in depression and our government is in dept. There is no cure for this disease and it has been around for decades. With all the money being spent on finding a cure, do not be suppressed if a cure never happens. The people who make up all these organizations to donate make a lot of money doing their jobs. I am not saying that they are using the donation money, but these challenges do not guarantee help towards ALS. Those infomercials you see on television requesting for ten cents day are all making money off of other individual’s hard work. I would simply donate money for the cause sense that is what really matters.

  5. kabaumgartel says:

    I think that this is a awesome way to get people involved. It is a inexpensive way to bring awareness to everyone around. I have heard several people say, I did not even know what ASL was until this all started. I think that is the point, it is a silly and creative way to get people to participate in something for a cause. I was not even aware of the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer. I do not think that this particular challenge will last for very much longer, and they will have to think of a new creative way to bring awareness to the public. But, they have raised a lot more money and brought a lot more awareness to the public. Props to the ASL foundation!

  6. Rebecca L says:

    A little off topic: I have dear friends that are Iraqi and live in Baghdad. They are sickened by this fundraising fad and see it as another example of the American braggadocious spirit…that we spent the summer flaunting our plentiful water supply by dumping it on our heads. I was stunned when I realized this;I had never thought of it in that context. I completely understand their point of view, even though I don’t know of a single person who, when taking “the challenge,” did it to taunt the rest of the world with our water.

  7. 1987woody says:

    As someone who is not on social media, I still read almost daily about the ice bucket challenge and have been challenged myself a few times. I do not participate but not because I do not believe in the ALS fundraising cause, indeed I do, I just choose to provide funds for charities in different ways. I struggle with the ice-bucket challenge. I applaud the genius behind the marketing tactic. It is truly one for the ages, and if the numbers play out, a marvelous fund-raising tool for an extremely worthwhile organization. My struggle is not about ice-buckets or ALS, it’s more of anti-social media and my self-admitted bias. So much of what I see seems like narcissistic, “look at me” stuff. Are these people really donating? Or doing whatever it is that is trendy and cool to do? That’s my honest struggle with the challenge, not the merits, not the end game of more funds, not the association folks behind the ALS scenes and certainly not those benefiting from the cause.

  8. Niku L says:

    I think that this is a fun and creative way to bring awareness to the disease and it works. Those numbers prove it. I too, had never heard of the ALS disease before viewing a video of one of the celebrities I follow on Instagram partaking in the cause. Social media is such an amazing marketing tool, and coupled with promotional measures by public figures, it’s a sure win. Will this “fad” end soon and be replaced by another odd trend of little to no substance like say, planking? It’s very likely. But for now, it’s getting the job done and very much so. I give the ALS foundation its props for using this tactic because 1) they are aware of the power of social media in modern day and 2) I’m sure they figured that unfortunately, most people are more likely to watch a 2-3 minute video of their friends and role models getting drenched than an informative video about the cause. I hope that this will encourage other charities to come up with creative ways to bring awareness to their cause.

  9. Theresa L says:

    I really enjoyed reading this article. Personally, I have not been nominated for the Challenge when I think back to summer 2014..I think of the ALS bucket challenge. From friends, family and random people off of social media, I have watched tons of videos. Sometimes I get really into watching them because they can be quite humorous listening to others reactions after it is dumped on them. And some times I get irritated if they do not use a big enough bucket, lol. I think my favorite video was the Zack Brown Band. They used tractors or dump ice water on the entire band and also a fire truck. I do not think we lost sight of what it stands for. Although I never knew of the meaning behind it until now. I thought that was awesome to learn about. I really do think that it has swept the nation and I am curious to see what fundraiser/charity comes up with next to top this one. I am not sure if ALS association put a deadline of when to donate money by, but I see this challenge still going on today. It is crazy to think of how much money they raised. It’s great to see many celebrities join in on the fun and donate. It creates great entertainment back home and encourages everyone else to join in. I never “saw” anything bad happening from this challenge until I heard of some news back home. My sister just recently told me about this story that happened with kids that go to the high school I went to.

    A few high schoolers asked one of their peers who is autistic to do the ice bucket challenge. Mind you, they never nominated him or were nominated their selves..they basically forced it upon him. They took him back to one of their houses and asked him to get in his boxers outside by the garage. After he did this, everyone else got on top of the garage with their buckets full of “water”. When they dumped the buckets over his head (about 3-4 buckets worth), you hear the kid start screaming “what is this? what are you pouring on me?”. It turns out they poured pee, feces, cigarette buts and spit all over him. The kids are being pressed charges and were suspended from school. If you would like to watch a video, it is still posted online because the parents wanted to spread awareness of what is happening.

    In situations like this it really upsets and disgusts me that a challenge put in place to benefit in a positive way is leading young and immature adults to take it to the extreme. Granted in thier minds they probably saw this as a “funny joke”…but they did not think about the consequences and how many people they would be hurting. I still am an advocate of the ALS challenge but you never can expect it to all turn out well. I pray for the autistic kid and his family.

  10. I applaud the ALS fundraising efforts for just that, fundraising. While recognizing the co-founder of the challenge (27-year-old Corey Griffin) was killed in an unrelated incident, the sad reality is that at least two deaths and an untold number of injuries have been attributed to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

    Isn’t it ironic that someone would get killed trying to raise money for use in finding a cure for ALS? So it goes back to the point of the thread … is the challenge just about hype and glory or about seriously raising awareness to ALS in search of a cure? And are all the people that taking the challenge even bothering to make their minimum $100 donation to the cause?

    According to published reports, 18-year-old Scottish teenager Cameron Lancaster died after jumping into a flooded quarry in response to the challenge.
    The other death is a bit murky. A 40-year-old from New Zealand, Willis Tepania, had just participated in the ice bucket challenge but then apparently died after consuming nearly a bottle of bourbon. So exactly where was the emphasis on ALS and raising awareness?

    And of course, we cannot dismiss the incident that left one firefighter critical and injured three others, two of them seriously, when their aerial ladder got too close to a power line in Kentucky. The firefighters had just sprayed water on band students at Campbellsville University as part of a video challenge for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

  11. Angela B says:

    I myself took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge and have seen everyone else on social media take the challenge as well. It is an amazing cause and if you are true to your word and make a donation that is amazing. However it did cross my mind, How many people are really donating money when they are doing the challenge? Seems enough that ALS has raised funds even more now than ever before. Another thing that crossed my mind was is this people just following suit are they just doing it to be cool. ALS is very serious and the ice bucket challenge was started for a good reason. I just wanted everyone’s heart to be in it and really understand why they were taking the challenge. I agree that the ALS group will need to come up with even more ways of raising money and ultimately find a cure. If they loose sight then the real goal of finding a cure is a lost thing. Also with the ice bucket challenge I have seen people getting hurt on accident and people sharing the video over and over. I think to myself things are started for wonderful reasons, but then just end up to be a video to laugh at. I am thankful for everyone who completed the ice bucket challenge and donated. Hopefully ALS will eventually have a cure.

  12. Teddi C says:

    I was challenged but did not complete the challenge. However, I did donate to the ALS Association and maybe that is the point because it is not a charity I normally donate to. I think a bigger question is whether I will continue to donate. I think this is a creative way to raise money for a good cause. It’s difficult for people to ignore a challenge – especially if that challenge is from a friend and for a good cause. I think one of the reasons this campaign was so effectively was the use of social media and the follow-up videos with people who are currently facing the devastation of ALS telling their stories. I was much more motivated to make a donation after I watched those videos. The challenge and videos reminded me of the devastation that families experience as a result of the disease. The ice bucket challenge provided needed education to a vast audience and increased donations to the ALS Association but the question becomes will the ALS Association keep the momentum going? With so many good causes that people can donate their money to, how will the ALS Association continue to motivate people to donate to them?

  13. pycarter says:

    The first time I heard of the ice bucket challenge was when my son was challenged by his girlfriend to participate in the challenge sometime in late May or June 2014. I did not know there was a cause associated with it until watching the video on facebook but he was asking the people to donate $25 or $50 to a charity of their choice. He did not have a small bucket of ice/water, he had a cooler with two bags of ice from the ice machines mixed with water. When they started showing celebrities, firemen, and police officers doing the ice bucket challenge it was all finished in my area and I didn’t know it was nationally not just locally. I was watching videos on social media for laughs because of how the people would react after the ice/water would be poured on them not knowing the seriousness of the cause. I don’t know if the challenge will sustain to continue fundraising for ALS and other charities but I am praying it survives and people are dedicated to it each year.

  14. C. McC says:

    Reading this article, what stands out to me are the sustainability and management issues that nonprofits have. Of course there are challenges when it comes to fundraising with having to compete with other organizations. However, The ALS Association had much success with the ice bucket challenge, and we have not heard anything as exciting from them since.

    The problem is that many nonprofits do not develop a strong brand. The “Ice Bucket Challenge” had a great run, but because of public pushback and their attorney’s advice, ALSA withdrew the application to trademark the phrase. But this challenge was someone else’s idea to begin with. It would have been prudent for them to take advantage of the publicity they received, and cement their name in people’s hearts while interest in this very important cause had peaked.

    Of course they have developed a plan to manage the funds they received (over $115 million) but it is just as important to secure forward thinking, plugged-in social media and social engagement experts to help the organization build on the recent successful campaign. After reading this article, I went to the ALS twitter page and saw them “retweet” another company’s message regarding the sale of #icebucketjewelry for Valentine’s Day 2015, with some of the proceeds going to ALS research. Had I not been searching for the next phase of an awareness campaign for them, I wouldn’t have even known one existed. Well, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens this summer. Will we be hearing about dumping ice for ALS, or diving for another worthy cause?

  15. tarac says:

    I think after a while of this challenge being on facebook, it became more of something to post. I don’t know if half of the people who took the challenge actually did donate or even understood or tried to learn more about ALS. After all, besides donating was this not part of the challenge, to educate people about the disease? Personally, I did not watch any of the videos that were posted on facebook, however I did read more about ALS. I guess if just one more person became educated and aware of ALS that is a good start to future donations. All you have to do is get the information out there about the association and just hope that people will pick it up and be drawn to give. Hopefully all the donations will continue to follow as strong as they did this past year.

  16. Kaitlyn S. says:

    As a fellow fundraiser, I found the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge really interesting. It was wildly successful and seemed to take over all social media platforms. I must admit I was not aware of the backstory to how it started. This also leads me to believe a lot of the folks who participated in the challenge may not have even been aware of what ALS is, or why the challenge was going on. I bet that many people dumped ice water on their heads without donating — BUT, there were obviously many that made donations. Fundraising growth like that is nearly impossible for a nonprofit. Often nonprofits have a hard time getting their message out to the masses — this nonprofit succeeded. The question is, a year later, how is the nonprofit faring? Has any real traction been made? I could see the nonprofit turning some of these new donors into loyal annual donors through repeated solicitations, but I would be curious to know how many were actually maintained.

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