What is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and Is It Doing Any Good?

By now most of us have seen or at least heard about the ALS ice bucket challenge and all the celebrities that have taken up the cause, but is the ice bucket challenge really helping raise awareness about ALS?

What is ALS?

According to the ALS Association, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or ”Lou Gehrig’s Disease” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the body’s motor neurons. When motor neurons die, the regions of the brain that initiate and control muscle movement can no longer exercise that control, leading to a progressive loss of muscle control for the sufferer which, in time, may cause some sufferers to become totally paralyzed. The disease is, unfortunately, fatal.

In the United States, new ALS diagnoses are given to about 5,600 people every year, or roughly 15 cases a day, with about 30,000 Americans having the disease at any on time.  Usually, ALS impacts people between the ages of 40 and 70, though rarely it can affect people in their 20s and 30s. ALS tends to impact men over women but, as a person’s age advances, the more equal is the chance of developing ALS no matter one’s biological sex.

There is currently no cure for ALS and treatment options are limited — though are steadily getting better. Today, about half of all people given an ALS diagnosis live for at least three more years, while a quarter live for five years or more. Only about 10 percent will survive beyond ten years, but more research funding could help change that.

Why the Ice Bucket Challenge?

The ice bucket challenge as we know it today began with Pete Frates, resident of Beverly, Massachusetts, and his family. Frates is a 29-year-old former Division 1 college athlete who was recently diagnosed with ALS. The Frates wanted to raise awareness about ALS and so began the ALS ice bucket challenge as a local fund-raising event. They posted some videos to social media (under what would become #TeamFrateTrain) and, from there, the ice bucket challenge grew into the version we know today.

Nominees must donate money or poor a bucket of ice water over themselves (they usually do both) after which they nominate around three people to also take up the challenge which must be completed within 24 hours. The challenge has now been taken up by thousands of people, many of whom have recorded videos of themselves, including many celebrities like  Oprah, actor Tom Hiddleston and singer Britney Spears.

Is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Doing Any Good?

Well, it depends how you measure “doing good,” but by most standards yes.

The ALS Association has announced that, as of Saturday, it has received $11.4 million in donations compared to $1.7 during the same period of July 29 to August 16 last year. Those donations have come from existing donors and about 220,255 new charitable people.

If we wonder whether the challenge is actually raising awareness for ALS, we have some data on that too. I’ll shamelessly steal this from #TeamFrateTrain’s Facebook page, but this is a look at Google’s search data over the past month or so. The red line represents the uptick in searches relating to ALS as of August 13 and as you can see, it is quite dramatically outpacing the ice bucket challenge in blue:

 

We would expect that, with a new wave of celebrity involvement, the ice bucket challenge term will start to catch-up, but even so this is quite compelling evidence that, at the very least, people are wanting to know what is behind the ice bucket challenge and why this is a worthy cause.

There have been criticisms relating to the challenge, though. Many seem simply disdainful that a charity is benefiting from our viral meme culture, but a more substantial concern is that while the ice bucket challenge is definitely doing good in the short-term, it might be that fatigue will quickly set in and within a few months at most, attention and charitable giving will dry up and return to normal levels. We might say that this is to be expected, but it does raise the interesting question of how we can sustain such attention without giving in to crass ad campaigns, like the sexualizing ads used by PETA (which, incidentally, don’t work) or the constant bombardment of political ads from both Democratic and Republican candidates alike.

However, looking at the situation right now, and from what little data we do have, it really seems that this campaign is not only working but encouraging a lot more people to take notice of this cause — and people are having a lot of fun doing it.

You can follow the latest news on this charity drive with the hash tag #IceBucketChallenge on either Facebook or Twitter, or a trusted websearch. And now to finish, I provide you with what is my absolute favorite ice bucket challenge video so far, the Foo Fighters and their horror film Carrie twist. Enjoy:

Photo credit: Thinkstock.

132 comments

Raymond O.
Raymond O.about a month ago

I have been suffering from amyotrophic laterals sclerosis (ALS) disease for the last three years and had constant pain, especially in my knees. my first sign that something was wrong, was my slurred speech. And then the inability to eat without getting choked, strangled, and coughing.Throughout my three years ordeal, i was able to walk with assistance nothing was really working to help my condition.I went off the riluzole (with the doctor’s knowledge) and started on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis herbal formula i ordered from Health Herbal Clinic, Just 7 weeks into the Herbal formula treatment I had great improvements with my slurred speech, there is no case of constant pain and chest tightness since treatment, visit Health Herbal Clinic official website www. healthherbalclinic. net or email info@ healthherbalclinic. net. This treatment is incredible!

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Julianne R
Julianne R3 months ago

AMYOTROPHIC LATERAL SCLEROSIS (ALS)
I was diagnosed of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) in summer of 2012, my symptoms started out with a "foot drop" on my left foot, from there my left leg lost all muscle tone followed by slurred speech and inability to eat without getting choked, strangled, and coughing. My neurologist prescribed me some medications to help my symptoms but the medications did no good and their side effects were too severe. In 2015 i started on NewLife Herbal Clinic ALS Herbal formula treatment, i read alot of positive reviews on their success rate with the ALS Herbal treatment and i immediately started on the treatment. Just 11 weeks into the ALS Herbal formula treatment I had great improvements with my coordination, speech, breathing and muscle movements. I have basically gone stronger than i'd thought i could ever be again, visit NewLife Herbal Clinic official website www.newlifeherbalclinic.com or email info@newlifeherbalclinic.com. The fatigue and general muscle weakness had also declined, this treatment is nothing less of a miracle!



Julianne Regan

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Stacey B.
Stacey B.5 months ago

My ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) symptoms started out with a "foot drop" on my left foot. From there my left leg lost all muscle tone and then the entire left leg muscles were gone. Also my fingers and thumbs "contract" at times. Left arm was losing muscle tone too.I was given medications to slow down the progress of the disease,i resorted to a wheelchair (Perbombil C300).This was till my husband's sister introduced my husband to a herbal clinic in Johannesburg who sell herbal medicines to cure all kind of diseases including ALS, we contacted the herbal clinic via their email and purchased the ALS herbal remedy, we received the herbal medicine via courier within 7 days and commenced usage as prescribed, its totally unexplainable how all the symptoms gradually dissapeared, my speech has greatly improved and am able to walk a distance now with no help, contact this herbal clinic via their email healthherbalclinic@gmail.com Or website www.healthherbalclinic.weebly.com

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Jennifer T.
Jennifer T.7 months ago

A MUST READ FOR ALL.

I am here to give a testimony on how my mother got cured from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS ), my mother have be suffering from this disease ( disorder ) since 2012, we have visited so many Doctors and specialist, done all kind of test, taking so many medication as prescribed my different Doctors but there was no improvement, we spent a lot of money time and was beginning to give up hope, when i decided to check the internet if there was any remedy, then i stumbled on a testimony from some one, so wrote how his ant got cured from one Dr. Osaro with the help of herbal medicine, so i decided to immediately contact the Herbal Doctor, since we have not tied any herbal medicine, I contacted the Doctor through his Email address and told him about my mother's health challenge, then he told me not to worry that he has treated and cure many people from this same disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis ( ALS ), he prepared some herbs and sent to me through courier which i received within 5 days, this herbs i gave to my mother as instructed, here i am very happy to inform you all that my mother started getting better within 6 days of taking the medicine but the treatment last for 3 weeks, today my mother is fine and very healthy. I want to say a big thank to Dr. Osaro for his wonderful work, if you have any form of disease, DIABETES TYPE2, HIV/AIDS, HEPATITIS B, CANCER,
HERPES SIMPLEX, HPV 1&2 HYPERTEN

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Bellase O.
Bellase O.12 months ago

My husband was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) when he was 67 years old 8 years ago. He lived for eighteen months. The Rilutek (riluzole) did very little to help him. The medical team did even less. His decline was rapid and devastating,So i did everywhere to get useful information that will help my husband cure or suppress the disease. then i came across testimonies of those that took my hard earn money without any useful information or cure but they keep telling stories. about two months ago, a new staff was applied in my place of work and when He heard about my Husband Disease He was so remorseful and told me about Dr.Ogudo. but i felt it was still one of those internet guys so i didn't call or text Dr.Ogudo. later that week, He asked me if i have heard from Dr.Ogudo and he gave me proof and reasons to try. well, lots of thanks to Dr.Ogudo because as i am writing this message, my Husband is CURED through the herbs that Dr.Ogudo sent to us. so after my experience, i decided to save some people from falling to the hands of SCAMS. thanks for your time and if you require the service of Dr.Ogudo you have to reach him via email: dr.ogudoherbalspelltemple@gmail.com
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dr.ogudoherbalspelltemple101@yahoo.com or call Whats App Number 2349031726182 or call 2348156739654 ,
https://web.facebook.com/dr.ogudoherbalspelltemple/?skip_nax_wizard=true
Thank you Dr.Ogudo all for your support!!.

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Past Member
.about a year ago

All thanks to Dr Aba, I am here to share a life testimony of my self on how i came in contact with a real herbalist who helped me. i appreciate everyone for taken their precious time to read my testimony, 6 months ago i was diagnosed with ALS, this means that 6 months ago i was ALS positive when i told one of my good friend about this, she sympathized with me and then she said that she was going to help me out, she told me that we should do some research on the Internet, we came across Dr Aba and my friend said that she has come across a lot about him and said that he is a real herbalist remedy to all illness, i was really surprised on this and confused as well, I was so speechless and quickly i contact him to help me and he prepared some herbs for me and send it across to me and he told me the way i was going to be taken the medicine which i did, and in the next 2 weeks i went to the hospital and they said that i am now ALS negative, i am very happy about this, then i contacted Dr Aba again to tell him the good result , i asked him how he was able to help me, and he said that he was gifted with it that he can cure any disease. also reach him because health is better than wealth Email him via"dr.abaherbalhome@gmail.com you can call or whatsApp his number on 2348107155060 see more at drabaherbalhome.webs.com

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Elizabeth Z.
Elizabeth Z3 years ago

In California we're experiencing a drought. There isn't another way to raise awareness and fundraise?

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Janis K.
Janis K3 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

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zef rose

If you are concerned with the waste of water, take the rubble bucket challenge from Gaza. In order to participate in the challenge, they use buckets of rubble and sand, since there is no longer any water there to pour, nor electricity to make ice, due to the Israeli bombings. This is real:

http://www.fastcompany.com/3034806/fast-feed/gaza-based-journalist-launches-rubble-bucket-challenge-to-support-palestinians

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Jeannie Fuchs
Jeannie Fuchs3 years ago

Its a fun idea, but I do not support the Ice Bucket Challenge due to it is a HUGE Waste of Water!! I am glad to see they are raising awareness & money though. Hopefully they will find a cure soon.

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