Local and international TV and social media networks have been super saturated with photos and videos of people dumping buckets of ice and cold water on their heads. It has been the buzz word and the latest craze to sweep the United States and in other countries during the second semester of this year. I have seen these challenges on TV and on the web and I thought one thing good that drove the nominees to accept the challenge is the excitement that it brings forth. The challenge also gives nominees the chance to be acknowledged of their donations with their photo ops and publicity stunts on video, using their promotional possibilities to full advantage.
But, what’s all the hype?
When I visted the web site of ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association, total donations as of August 24, 2014 from the ice bucket challenges reached $70.2 million and it has increased by roughly $9 million in just a span of one day, totaling $79.7 million (as of August 25, 2014). Wow, what a bang for the buck!
The said challenge started in July this year with a $5.7 million in total donations as of month-end but the donations flooded when ALS Association issued press releases in August about the donation process and the phemomenon. One reason behind the succesful launching of the challenge is the timing. It was just right and perfect — it is summer time in the U.S. and in some parts of the globe such as the Philippines and that the dumping and throwing of buckets of ice and cold water provided a “break”, so to speak, to the participants to feel cringe at first, and later a refreshing feeling. A whole lot of celebrities in the movie and music industry, NHL players, and even known public figures in the U.S. such as the former President George W. Bush dared the challenge and made donations to the organization. In the Philippines, a tropical country which is allied to the U.S., likewise displayed these challenges on tv with famous personalities accepting the chilling challenge, namely Kris Aquino, an awarded tv host and the sister of the current President, the country’s interior Secretary Mar Roxas and his TV host and news anchor wife, Korina Sanchez, who incidentally is a facebook friend of My Useful Tips.
Actually, the endorsements of the challenge which came mostly from famous celebrities naturally made it viral. The meme stirred up a whirlwind of curiosity and attention due to media’s even more extensive reporting.
Where the Green Bucks Go?
ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease is a terrible muscular disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, wherein people lose their skeletal muscle function, including the muscles that help us breathe. At the first stage, the ALS sufferers would experience difficulty in walking and talking.
Lou Gehrig, a native of Manhattan, New York and the “Iron Man” of the New York Yankees many decades ago, retired from baseball game because he got struck by this illness. Due to the said ALS diagnosis, baseball aficionados and the New Yorkers clamored to honor Gehrig’s contribution to baseball game, hence ALS was also branded as “Lou Gehrig’s disease”.
According to the website of ALS Association, the $79.7 million total donations as of today will be earmarked to find treatments and cures for ALS as well as to provide support to people affected with the disease. Approximately 30,000 Americans are presently suffering from ALS. The website likewise indicates that life expectancy is normally two to five years from the time of diagnosis. Hence, the need for donations to help find the cure.
But the said amount continues to grow as the ice bucket challenge keeps on eliciting attention from the public interested to taking the “cold plunge” as days and months go by. It is like a network marketing business — participants would nominate friends to try the “icy dare” and make donations, thus extending the challenge far and wide. The largest single donation so far received by ALS was a whooping $100,000 bucks!
However, some of us might wonder…..why are we shelling out “cash ” for this particular research? What happened to previous donations for the purpose? Were the scientists formerly engaged by ALSA able to identify solutions to the problem? Are there any scholarly studies and white papers on this? Who are the beneficiaries of the ALS donations? Do they belong to the poor, average, middle or upper class of society? Absolutely, there is no problem in donating and advocating for good causes especially in searching for the cure of dreadful diseases such as ALS as long as the end results are noble and justifiable and that all information are readily available.
One negative perception about ALS is that some pro-life supporters claim that ALSA is also advocating for embryonic stem cell research to help treat the disease, which is something not good and may not be doable. According to experts on the web and as we all know from school, embryos are undeveloped human beings and if given a healthy environment, they will grow to become healthy babies.
The world is facing enormous problems these days: war, conflict, hunger, and health related problems. Why didn’t large humanitarian organizations think of this kind of marketing strategy which appeared to have been effective and fun at the same time? Say, if a $0.25 donation can provide a child with all of the vitamins and nutrients he or she needs to grow up healthy, a $100 dollar worth of “ice bucket challenge” would feed hundreds of children across the globe. The $79.7 million will not only be used for 30,000 Americans afflicted with ALS but for millions of hungry and suffering people worldwide. Notably, there are almost a billion people throughout the world who do not have enough food to eat.
The world would be great to live in if in the near future each one of us regardless of status in life will rise up and participate in certain challenges like the “ice bucket” to help people in areas with internal conflict, hunger and health related problems like those in Iraq, Syria, Ukraine, Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan, Africa and in other poverty-stricken places. Come on, let’s take the plunge for this cause!
Note: The above photo is the ice-bucket challenge of Mr. John Benvenuto, a kind and talented friend of My Useful Tips from New York (with a little help from his friend pouring the bucket of water on him). John is a musician and an actor. I was thinking, how would his ice bucket challenge look like if he was singing Biebl’s “Ave Maria” while taking the plunge! Thanks a lot John for the photo! It rocks!