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Opinion Is ALS ice bucket challenge more helpful or harmful?

Is ALS ice bucket challenge more helpful or harmful?


The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken every platform of social media by storm.

The ice bucket challenge is meant to bring awareness to Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Many may know this disease as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Lately, the social media sweep has begun to receive a lot of criticism. Some say this is just a trend, a way for people to advertise that they care by not actually doing anything.

When you are challenged, your choices are to dump a bucket of ice water on yourself and donate $10 or donate $100 to the ALS Foundation. Because of this, some are saying that the challenge is discouraging people from donating money.

Coming from someone who, in the beginning, criticized the phenomenon, I have come to see that it is truly making a difference for the ALS community. As the Ice Bucket Challenge began its takeover three weeks ago, I heard many of my friends ask, “What is this ALS stuff?” Now, they are informing their friends and family of this horrible disease by nominating them for the challenge.

According to the ALS Foundation website, 5,600 Americans are diagnosed every year. It is a disease that has affected average Americans and famous athletes alike, such as Steve Gleason and Lou Gehrig.

ALS can affect anyone and many have been diagnosed in their 20s. The life expectancy of a person diagnosed is two to five years.

How did I know all of this? Because I was challenged.

Yes, this may be a fad and it may seem silly, but prior to this, ALS was something rarely spoken about, especially amongst college communities.

According to The New York Times, as of Aug. 28, the ALS Foundation is likely to surpass $100 million since July 29. That is compared to the $2.6 million donated in 2013. This funding will hopefully help make giant leaps in the movement to finding a cure for ALS.

This trend may fade and next month another trend will seep into our Facebook news feeds. But, for the time being, this challenge has earned the ALS Foundation roughly $85 million more than usual and it has also shown people that giving back and donating to charity can be a rewarding, fun experience- or a cold one for that matter.

Charlotte Allen from the Los Angeles Times said it best: “No sooner does a silly fad materialize than some long-faced progressives come along to throw cold ice onto it. Because people should never, ever be allowed to have a good time while doing something good for somebody else. There should be a ban on charity balls, raffles, school bake sales (those cupcakes are pretty tasty) and Santa sack races. Just write a check and grimace.”

Whether you feel the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is harmful or helpful you can’t deny that the videos circulating aren’t absolutely hilarious. From the Foo Fighters recreating the prom scene in Stephen King’s “Carrie” to being able to challenge your parents to a little icey-cold suffering, there have been a ton of laughs. People are learning about ALS, donating to ALS research and getting excited to raise awareness for this horrible disease. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

Mary Sergeant
Writer and Photographer for the Student Printz at the University of Southern Mississippi

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