The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has come and gone in my house. Chances are if you have a Facebook account, you or someone you know has been nominated for the challenge. Everyone is getting in on the challenge, from Aaron Rodgers and Donald Driver to Faith Hill, Oprah Winfrey, and Justin Timberlake; even the Muppets are in on the action. In my house, it was my 4-year old daughter that was nominated by her cousin. I was not sure a 4-year old should be participating in such a challenge. While we do our best to explain things such as donating money to those that need it more than us, she only partially understands the concept. And while most would consider having a bucket of ice dumped on an adult’s head in support of a cause admirable, I wasn’t sure people would think the same with a toddler.
The premise of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is to video yourself dumping a bucket of ice over your head to raise awareness for ALS, and then nominate others to do the same within 24 hours or else donate money to an ALS charity. In order to raise awareness, it is important to share what you did with the world. The videos I have seen have morphed a bit from the original. I showed my daughter the video of the nomination and she was totally excited when she heard her name and realized she also got to pour a bucket of water over her head. My husband and I explained it several times to make sure she was okay with it and understood what was going to happen. Rather than a bucket of ice cubes, we used a bucket of water and since it was right from the hose it was cold water. She asked for a few ice cubes, which we put in the water, but they melted (or her little sister plucked them out) before we actually got around to the dumping part.
ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a disease that affects the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement. Early stages of the disease show muscle weakness primarily in the arms and legs. I have been told that this disease ultimately encapsulates a person in his or her body, not having the ability to move, speak, or even swallow. According to the ALS website, there are more than 30,000 people in the United States that are battling the disease at any given time, with approximately 5,600 people in the US being diagnosed each year. The disease most commonly hits people between the ages of 40-70 and there is no known cure or treatment for ALS. The average life expectancy from the time of diagnosis is three to five years.
Through research made possible by funding with donations such as those from the Ice Bucket Challenge, there is new understanding of the disease and several drugs in clinical trials allowing more people to live longer and having access to things that can help maintain as normal a life as possible. My family not only participated in the challenge, but we donated money to the ALS Association as well. We donated in memory of a family friend who battled the disease for several years, but ultimately lost.
So with all these challenges being made, awareness for this disease has definitely been brought to the forefront, but it got me wondering: how much money is actually being donated? To date, I didn’t hear a monetary value associated with the challenge. In fact, most of the Facebook posts I see don’t mention the donation part of the challenge. I decided to investigate for myself to learn a little more about the disease, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and the funds being raised for the association.
I was astounded to learn that as of this article being written; more than $88.5 million dollars has been donated, compared to $2.6 million during the same time period last year. To add to that, more than 1.9 million new donors pledged money all because of being nominated for the Ice Bucket Challenge. And that number only continues to grow with each nomination.
I found it very easy to make a donation. I Googled ALS Wisconsin and found the association’s Wisconsin chapter website, on the upper top left corner of the web page they have a button for donating in conjunction with the Ice Bucket Challenge. The donation requested all my pertinent personal information, the amount I wanted to donate, and I was also able to allocate my donation to several options: care services, grant, equipment loan, greatest need, or research. The form also asked if I wanted to donate in memory or in honor of someone. Additionally, I was given an option of sending a note to the family of who I was donating in memory of.
So in our house, my daughter got soaked with a bucket of cold water, followed by a nice warm bath. She nominated 3 of her buddies who are either family or close family friends and challenged them to do the same. If getting soaked with a bucket of ice cold water is not your thing there are other ways to raise awareness for ALS. The Wisconsin chapter has several donation options, sponsorship opportunities, or volunteer needs. You can take a look at what might fit you and your family by visiting their website at www.alswi.org.
Samantha Gehl is an organizing junkie living in a chaotic house. After years of struggling with infertility, she and her husband are parents to 2 little princesses. She loves to take long weekends away with her husband and spend her time doing anything that involves family and friends. During her spare time she likes to go for long walks in her neighborhood with the kiddos or spend time on Pinterest finding projects and recipes she will likely never have time to try.