By now, everyone from most of your Facebook friends to Bill Gates has accepted – and filmed – the Ice Bucket Challenge. The extremely viral fundraiser, in which participants dump buckets of freezing water over their heads and commit to donating money to fund ALS, has raised over $100 million so far.
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.
The millions of dollars raised from the Ice Bucket Challenge will go a long way toward finding a cure for ALS and helping survivors live better lives, despite this disease. It’s also important to note that the Ice Bucket Challenge has considerably raised awareness for ALS, a disease that historically hasn’t received a great deal of media attention.
If you’re wondering what the ALS Association plans to do with all of the donations, here is their most recent statement on how the funds will be allocated:
“While research and care services to patients and their families are our top priorities, we cannot provide a breakdown at this time. We appreciate the sense of urgency that exists and are already engaged in discussions on how we’re going to put this money to work in the short term and into the future. Now and in the coming weeks, we will be able to enhance our strategic plan, reformulating and recasting strategies with input from stakeholders, including our donors, our chapters, and most importantly, people living with ALS and their families. We want to move quickly but decisively as our ultimate goal is to use this incredible generosity in a way that has the biggest impact on the disease.”
If you haven’t taken the Ice Bucket Challenge yet, the ALS Association requests that you use the hashtags #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, and #strikeoutals to keep this viral campaign going strong on social media.
Image credit: “Bill Gates ice bucket challenge” by mwaseema is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/