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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Is it Actually Working?

Samantha Monfils

Samantha Monfils, Staff Writer

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From your neighborhood streets to your Facebook timeline, Instagram and Twitter feed, people everywhere are doing The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. If you were not already aware of the incredibly popular social phenomena, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is when you are nominated by someone, usually a friend, to dump a bucket of cold ice water over yourself or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation. The reason this whole idea started was to raise awareness about ALS. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. People who are diagnosed with ALS at one point become totally and completely paralyzed. Walking, talking, eating, hugging and even breathing become nearly impossible, although the mind stays sharp. Once diagnosed with ALS, patients at the most have only three or four more years to live and the progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS then eventually leads to their death.

So why does pouring buckets of ice water over yourself raise awareness about Lou Gehrig’s Disease? I did an extensive amount of research on this topic and unfortunately could not find anything credible. There were several posts on Instagram stating that the feeling you get from dumping the cold water on you is what it feels like to have ALS, but you have that cold feeling all the time. However, because Instagram is not a credible source for this type of information, I will not state it as true. The only reason I can think of about why the challenge involves ice water is because it serves as a penalty. As mentioned earlier, when nominated, you must dump the ice water over yourself or donate to the foundation for research. Not many people would be crazy about dumping freezing cold water on themselves and therefore forfeit to donating the money. Now though, of course, because it is so popular, people don’t mind it as much as long as they get over twelve likes on their video on Instagram.

But the question here is if it is really helping. As always, there are two sides to every debate. On one side, California is in a major drought and the Ice Bucket challenge is a huge waste of our fresh clean water. On top of that, the money people are spending when buying all the supplies you need for the challenge (a bucket, packets of ice, water, etc.) could be instead donated to the foundation. Also, many people don’t even know what the challenge is for and are only doing it because “everyone else is.” On the other hand, the purpose of the whole idea is actually being fulfilled. It’s caught people’s attention and is being spread like wildfire. Since they started this Ice Bucket challenge, the ALS Association has raised over $110 million to put towards research of finding a cure for ALS.

Everything has its advantages and disadvantages. But in this case, either way, ALS wins.

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