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ALSA’s Ice Bucket Challenge: What’s All The Hype?

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!




7 responses to “ALSA’s Ice Bucket Challenge: What’s All The Hype?”

  1. Lara Cruz says:

    For an average person like me who works from 8 to 5 on regular days, before I give out my hard-earned 100 hundred dollars, I would also want to know first what kind of exploration or experimental projects are in the pipeline of ALSA as far as prevention of ALS is concerned. One hundred dollars is 100 dollars and it’s a lot for me, although I can afford to spare some of my hard earned dollars for causes related to health problems. You did a great job!

  2. Angelique says:

    Will the millions of dollars donated for this cause, I just hope ALSA would be able to tap scientists who are more than smart enough to find cure for ALS disease. Hooray, to those who have shared their treasures!

  3. Daniel says:

    Whoever was the “brains” behind the said ice bucket funding strategy may have been celebrating by now with a “bang”! His principals must be contemplating on rewarding him/her for the great idea! Unfortunately, I declined to take the challenge for certain reasons. Nice article. At least, the pluses and minuses of ALSa”s mission have been covered by your blog.

  4. Ced says:

    Wanna bet? This ice bucket challenge will die down naturally! People will no longer be as excited to take the challenge as before!

  5. Colmar says:

    This a very effective fundraising scheme! I have observed that people are more motivated to donate when there is some kind of a “show” attached to it . Even in raising funds with musical concerts or plays, it would always attract “crowds”. ALSA’s ice bucket challenge with an accompanying photos and videos can be compared to people taking “selfie” photos which is very popular among celebrities and these are being posted in social media networks. That’s one reason why people went “crazy” for the ice bucket challenge!

  6. Penney says:

    I’m impressed by the way you portrayed the ice bucket challenge….interesting! Did you notice lately….have you read updates on how the challenge is doing now? That is more interesting, right? It could have been a hype!

  7. Greggy says:

    You shared a different perspective about the subject. I thought the ALSA’s challenge was more geared towards people who get trolled in social networking sites; people who are media and camera conscious….those who want to be in the limelight and most of all they are the ones who need other people’s attention! Sorry guys, that’s not me!