For ALS: Why Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and other famous people are pouring iced water over their heads
WORLD – You’ve probably seen the tech icons Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos dumping a bucket of iced water on themselves.
If you haven’t, here are the videos on Youtube (Mark uploaded his video only on Facebook):
The Ice Bucket Challenge – raising awareness for ALS
The Ice Bucket Challenge aims to raise awareness for ALS. The idea of pouring cold water on oneself in hopes of raising awareness is not new. Cancer charities have also carried out similar campaigns to raise awareness.
The rules of the Ice Bucket Challenge are simple.
Step 1: Prepare bucket, ice, water, a recording device. In Bill Gates’ case, he “constructed” a whole pulley system and wasn’t using an iPhone to record the challenge. But you can.
Step 2: Before you douse yourself, tell everyone who will watch the video why you’re taking the challenge and then issue the challenge to three other people. They have 24 hours to take the challenge or donate $100 to The ALS Association. You can suggest for them to do both.
Step 3: Upload the video onto Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and hashtag #IceBucketChallenge and #StrikeOutALS in your post.
Just a gimmick?
The reason it has gone viral this time was the involvement of influential, global icons such as Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates. As they nominate their other influential celebrity friends with huge followers on social media, the campaign gained traction incredibly fast.
A video of your favourite mentor doing his part to raise awareness would make you want to do the same. In return, your friends wonder what you’re doing and google it or ask you about it (if you didn’t mention in the video), creating a global domino (or ripple) effect.
Of course, as with every campaign, there will be criticisms from the cynics.
Donations are supposed to a be private affair, not for showing off. Just donate. Yes, but this campaign is about raising awareness. You may choose to donate privately or tell the world about it. The ALS association and the families of patients would gladly thank you for your support. But if you can tell the whole world you did it, make 3 other people tell the whole world they did it and they in turn tell another three of their own friends to do it, the message gets repeated over and over again. With marketing, impressions count and Mark Zuckerberg would know; Facebook ads have an option to pay for impressions because the more times the world sees you, the higher chance you’ll be remembered.
Why waste water? That water could be donated to states or countries in drought. Yes, that is true. Our parents also made us finish the food on our plates when we were kids because in Africa people were starving. If we had told our parents to send that plate of food to the starving children, we could have gotten timeout and the plate would still be there on the table.
The water is undeniably wasted, but no one would’ve made the concerted effort to deliver the buckets of water to countries that needed it. It is just how our society is wired. It’s like flying in a private jet to a Live Earth concert, or having a three-day energy-sapping carnival to celebrate Earth Hour in which we spent one WHOLE hour in total darkness. Sometimes the irony is undeniable.
Or better still, the money spent on ice and water could have been donated. True, but again, the simple gesture would have lacked the attention-grabbing angle needed to go viral and to raise awareness, you’d want as many people as possible to stop and give you their attention.
Also, if you put tap water in your freezer, you actually get ice in a few hours without having to buy them. Of course, when your bill comes, you will have to bear the consequences and pay for a bucket of water with ice cubes.
Why should I donate to support ALS? Don’t tell me which charity to support! You have every right to support your favourite charity, and your gesture to donate to your choice of charity is always appreciated. You don’t have to donate, but you can raise awareness about ALS just by sharing the videos. Of course, if you’d like to do one yourself for the fun of it, go ahead. If the message to raise awareness about ALS gets spread across while you have fun, that’s a win-win situation.
In a press release today, the ALS Association has received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period last year (July 29 to August 18). These donations have come from existing donors and 307,598 new donors to The Association.
With over 300,000 new donors in less than a month, the campaign has definitely exceed expectations and received almost tenfold in donations. Obviously the Ice Bucket Challenge is effective this time round.
What is ALS?
The ALS Association states the definition quite simply: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body.
The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
While there is no cure or treatment today that halts or reverses ALS, there are significant devices and therapies that can manage the symptoms of ALS that help people maintain as much independence as possible and prolong survival.
According to the International Alliance of ALS / MND Associations, “the disease affects each individual differently and can have a devastating impact on family, carers, and friends. The rapidly progressive nature of the disease requires constant adaptation to increasing and changing levels of disability, which in turn require increased levels of support.”
5 facts about ALS
- Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells (neurones) that control muscles undergo degeneration and die. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is one of the subtypes of motor neurone disease. Although MND is the widely used generic term, ALS is used more generically in some countries.
- The life expectancy of an ALS patient averages about two to five years from the time of diagnosis. However, due to the varying effect on each individual, some may live with the disease beyond five years.
- This neurological disease affects over 400,000 of the world’s population and kills over 100,000 every year. There is no known cure.
- ALS occurs throughout the world with no racial, ethnic or socioeconomic boundaries.
- ALS can strike anyone.
It is important to note this campaign has managed to exceed all expectations and the money raised would be beneficial for families, patients and research towards a cure. Whether the results can be replicated next year, or for other awareness campaigns remain to be seen. But as far as awareness campaign goes, ALS has received an unprecedented amount of attention in such a short period, and that counts for something.
This could be a great discussion topic for teachers to facilitate in the classroom.
If you would like to donate, contact your local ALS association or charity.
What do you think of the Ice Bucket Challenge?