If you are on social media, you have probably seen friends, politicians, athletes or celebrities recently dump a bucket of ice water over their head. This chilly "challenge" they are doing is the Striking Out ALS: Ice Bucket Challenge, and it is taking over the social media world. The task is a campaign to raise money and awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also referred to as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.
ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. ALS leads to muscle weakness, difficulty speaking, breathing and swallowing which eventually leads to death. There is no cure for the disease.
The Ice Bucket Challenge started with Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player. Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. Last month, Frates posted a video to Facebook inviting people to take part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. Since then, the Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral.
After people post their video of themselves using #IceBucketChallenge and #StrikeOutALS, they then nominate others to complete the challenge within 24 hours. If the nominees don't accept the challenge, they are asked to donate to the ALS association.
Whether people accept the challenge or not, the ALS association donations have skyrocketed. According to the ALS association, between July 29 and August 12 the association and its 38 chapters have received $4 million in donations compared to the $1.12 million last year at this time.
The association is also pleased with how many people are now aware of the disease.
"While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible, the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable," said Barbara Newhouse, president and CEO of The ALS Association. "People who have never before heard of ALS are now engaged in the fight to find treatments and a cure for ALS."
People like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Jimmy Fallon, Matt Lauer, Martha Stewart, Luke Bryan, Adam Levine and NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers have completed the Ice Bucket Challenge and have nominated others to perform the task. Ethel Kennedy even challenged President Obama, who declined and donated to an ALS foundation instead.
Newhouse also commented on the ALS association website that with the amount of people aware of the disease now, the organization is poised to work with other ALS organizations and pharmaceutical companies to find ALS treatments.
Contact Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LindsPetey.