Like pretty much everyone else on Facebook, my news feed has been full of videos of friends and relatives dumping a bucket of ice on their heads to raise awareness of ALS and money for research that may one day lead to better treatment.
Some people have suggested this is a useless exercise, something people are doing so friends on Facebook can say, “Wow, look how awesome that person is.”
Is that so?
For some people, probably.
According to one local ALS Association chapter, the challenge calls for people to get doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, and then nominating others to do the same, all to raise ALS awareness. Those who refuse to take the challenge are asked to make a donation to the ALS charity of their choice.
I’m certainly for raising awareness of ALS, a terrible disease that has killed people I know and left families devastated. If people dousing themselves gets others to take it more seriously, I’m for that. I’m for raising money to fight it even more.
And I’ll admit that I enjoy watching friends and relatives doing this on video. It’s harmless fun.
Like all awareness causes, I’d like to see more.
People in these videos say they’re raising awareness, but many of them aren’t talking about the disease itself. Some are, but most are just announcing what they’re doing and dousing themselves.
To make this a more effective exercise, I suggest people throw in some dialogue. Tell us about people you know who have suffered at the hands of ALS. Give us some statistics of how many people are afflicted each year and how many die from it. Shed some light on what the research money is being used for.
Nothing raises awareness like details.
If people are filming themselves performing the stunt instead of donating, then it’s a hollow deed that fuels the argument that there’s some narcissism at work.
In the big picture, though, I think people have their hearts in the right place, and they seem to be getting results.
The ALS Association says it raised $1.35 million nationally from July 29 to August 11. A spokesperson for the association told Fox News they raised $22,000 during the same period in 2013.
So keep dumping the ice on your head. And add some personal stories to your videos to make the tragedy of ALS more real.
UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins and Chair and Professor of Neurology Robert H. Brown Jr., DPhil, MD, accept the Ice Bucket Challenge. Photo from CBS News.