Pouring a bucket of ice water over your head and posting it online might have been considered odd before 2014. Now Facebook and Twitter feeds are riddled with home videos of just that.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a social media fad created to raise awareness and money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis [ALS] research, received a huge response upon its debut this summer. The hype, however, surrounded the videos produced more than the money raised for the foundation.
The idea hit mainstream audiences on July 15 when television anchor Matt Lauer performed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on NBC’s The Today Show. Although not limited to celebrity participation, the challenge was made aware by big names in sports, politics and television.
Boston College basketball player Peter Frates has ALS and promoted the challenge through his Twitter account. Sports icons such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and the entire New England Patriots team participated.
They were followed by political figures such as former President George W. Bush and the Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley. Other American celebrities dumped with ice water include Jessica Alba, Ashton Kutcher, Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift, Chris Pratt and Mark Wahlberg.
Well-known celebrities from around the world helped as well, such as Portuguese soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo and Canadian television actor Mike Smith. The rules of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are easy. First the participant must introduce themselves on camera and state that they’re taking on the challenge. Next, they are dumped with icy water.
After dripping wet and cold they must nominate another person or multiple people to do the same and then post the video to any social media with the hashtags: #icebucketchallenge, #alsicebucketchallenge, or #strikeoutals. Those who were challenged have 24 hours to film themselves performing the challenge.
How does this raise money?
Simply, it does not. Pouring cold water over your head accomplishes nothing but a makeshift bathing. Despite this, as of Sept. 12, $112.4 million has been raised for ALS research since the fad went viral.
The unsuspected spike in donations can be attributed partially to the average person donating ten dollars instead of being drenched, and partially to celebrities with money to spare. President Barack Obama donated $100 instead of completing the challenge.
Charlie Sheen dumped a pot of money over his head in his ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video, totaling in ten thousand dollars, which he then donated towards ALS research.
In its infancy, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was promoted to raise awareness for people living with the muscular disease and receive funding for research towards curing it. What it has become is a competition for who can make the most creative video.
Jake Kelley and Henry Weekes, UNH students, had a doggie-pool of water dropped on them from the roof as they played “Go Fish” outside.
In response, Taylor Woodward, UNH student, and sister Kate Woodward, Ithaca graduate, dumped a bucket of ice water and fish over their heads while on vacation in Maine. Neither parties donated any money. The focus has unfortunately shifted to the theatrics.
Matt Damon made aware another controversial aspect of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in his video. Damon, the co-founder of water.org, filled his bucket with toilet water. The act promoted the crisis over safe drinking water in eastern continents as well as water conservation in the United States.
Communities in South Asia or Africa drink and bathe in contaminated water. A plentiful amount of clean water is a luxury we take for granted. Aside from wasting a few hundred gallons of water and taking over the internet, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge succeeded in raising awareness for the muscle disease as well as research funding.
Perhaps with the money donated, and possibly more from future Ice Bucket Challenge participants, a cure can be created.
Allie Baker can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org