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The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: An Outpouring of Icy Water, Funds, and Support

by Culture Team
31 Jul 2017 | 2:10 PM

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raked in buckets and buckets of donations, and has raised awareness for a disease most of us probably never heard of before this water-dumping thing happened.

For the uninitiated, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a charity fundraising campaign that seeks to raise awareness and financial support for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, this condition attacks a person's nerve cells, ridding them of motor function, which eventually leads to paralysis.


A Fundraising Campaign Gone Viral
You've probably seen one of your favorite celebrities, politicians, or maybe even your friends take a bucket of icy water and dump it on their heads. These viral videos are the latest craze online, with more than 3 million individuals taking on the challenge and raising more than $100 million since the campaign went viral in late July. The ALS Association, the organization that's benefitting from the craze, managed to raise only $2.8 million in the same period last year.

The rules of the challenge are fairly easy: anyone who gets nominated must pour a bucket of ice water on themselves and post video of the event on social media within 24 hours. The same person can then nominate three others to do the same. Those who fail to meet the deadline or refuse to take the challenge are expected to donate what they can to ALSA. Following the lead of most celebrities, however, many took it a step further by dousing themselves with ice water and donating to the charity as well.

Celebrities, big-name personalities, and even ordinary people have joined the movement, posting videos of themselves taking on the challenge.

A Star-Studded Challenge
The challenge's success is due in part to the participation of celebrities and well-known personalities, who were all eager to endure the cold water and still donate money to the charity.

The list of participants include Hollywood celebrities, singers, TV hosts, politicians, athletes, former presidents, astronauts, billionaires, chemists, physicists, animated characters, food chains, smartphones, and people from different walks of life.

The ever-growing list includes the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Fallon, Charlie Sheen, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest, Conan O' Brien, Selena Gomez, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Kate Upton, Leonardo DiCaprio, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James, Shaquille O' Neal, David Beckham, Mark Zuckerberg, Tim Cook, Bill Gates, former US President George W. Bush, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, and Stephen Hawking-who has been suffering with ALS since the age of 21. Other notable participants include Homer Simpson, the Samsung Galaxy S5, a chili pepper from Chili's Grill & Bar, and Kermit the Frog.

In the local scene, celebrities, political personalities, and even the biggest business tycoons have taken up the challenge. After being challenged by Derek Ramsay, Kris Aquino started the trend of getting doused with a bucket of ice water live on national television. The day after, Vice Ganda and Billy Crawford followed suit, and various other media figures took on the challenge in segments of their shows. The list includes the likes of Noli De Castro, Korina Sanchez, Anne Curtis, Lea Salonga, Carmina Villaroel, Zoren Legaspi, Doris Bigornia, Xian Lim, Aga Muhlach, DOJ Secretary Leila De Lime, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, and numerous others.

The Disease Behind the Challenge
ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease, is a muscular neurodegenerative disorder affecting the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It eventually leads to paralysis, organ failure and, in some cases, death.

ALS is a non-contagious disease that affects about 30,000 Americans. Approximately 5,600 individuals are diagnosed to have ALS in the US every year, with an incidence rate of two per 100,000 people.

A patient suffering from the disease has an average life expectancy of two to five years from the time of diagnosis, but can be longer depending on health and lifestyle factors.

ALS can strike anyone, anywhere, and anytime. It has no geographic, racial, ethnic, or socio-economic boundaries. The cause of the disease is not yet completely known, which is why funding for research and patient care is important. Some studies show the disease may have something to do with genetics, but the research still has a long way to go to become definitive.

While the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has received a lot of heat for being a misdirected marketing campaign or propaganda of some sort, one cannot take away the true essence of the challenge-that this pouring of ice water over one's head and donating is really an outpouring of support.