By VICKI CHEN
Trends are always coming and going, and one trend that went viral during July was the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket Challenge. People participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to help spread awareness of and raise money for ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease), which affects nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Like all other trends, the Ice Bucket Challenge seemed to have appeared from nowhere and the story of its origin and development did not draw as much attention as the multitude of videos of people drenching themselves and others with buckets of ice water.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is not an original idea; it has been previously used by other organizations for other causes. The idea of using ice water originated from the “Cold Water Challenge,” a challenge previously used to raise money for cancer patients. In the Cold Water Challenge, participants had 24 hours to either jump into cold water or donate money to cancer research. Sound familiar?
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge first drew attention when it was performed live on the program Morning Drive. Then, Matt Lauer did the challenge on NBC’s The Today Show, bringing it to many more audiences. That day, Jeanette Senerchia, whose husband had ALS for 11 years, was challenged. Suddenly, more focus was put on the ALS fundraising aspect of the challenge. When victims of Lou Gehrig’s Disease started participating in the challenge, videos went viral. Slowly, more and more people began participating. Celebrities, professional athletes and political figures began dumping ice water on their heads and donating to the cause. However, many criticized the people who participated in the challenge, questioning whether the participants did the challenge to stay connected with what is “in,” or to sincerely contribute to the cause. Despite the doubts cast on the motivations behind participants, the statistics are undeniable: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $100 million for the ALS Association. Considering the association’s annual budget is around $25 million, it seems like the challenge has definitely been effective.
The challenge itself has also met its fair share of criticism. Many people raised objections to the amount of water wasted and spoke out against participants. Others questioned whether Lou Gehrig’s Disease was a worthy cause at all, pointing out that more people are affected by other diseases and causes that do not receive nearly as much funding or publicity.
Whether the donations will bring about great change and help significantly is yet to be known, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has now left almost as quickly as it came, and new trends have already begun and replaced the Ice Bucket Challenge.