I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve been on social media recently, you’ve heard of the ice bucket challenge.
The challenge itself is simple:
1. Video yourself dumping a bucket of ice water on your head
2. Post it on some form of social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
3. Challenge your friends to do the same within 24 hours
4. If they fail to do so, they must donate $100 to ALS
When I first saw many of my Facebook friends doing this challenge, I was a bit confused. The way I looked at it, people were dumping ice water on their head to get out of donating money to the ALS foundation.
Evidently, I was wrong – according to the NY Times, “the association said it had received $13.3 million in donations since July 29, compared with $1.7 million during the same period last year.” They also reported that this year there were about 260,000 new donors. Many people opted out of the challenge and just donated, while others did both.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s not all about the money. Awareness is equally as important, because without it, there are no donations. A year ago I knew very little about ALS at all, and yet today I took part in the challenge myself.
ALS currently impacts about 30,000 Americans. The disease “attacks nerve cells and ultimately leads to total paralysis, though the mind remains sharp.” After being diagnosed, the typical life expectancy is 2-5 years.
With the help of social media, “people have shared more than 1.2 million videos on Facebook between June 1 and August 13 and the challenge has been mentioned more than 2.2 million times on Twitter since July 29, according to those sites.”
If people aren’t aware of something, they aren’t able to support it. Spreading the challenge throughout social media has made it possible to raise money and awareness for ALS all over the world. People are more inclined to get involved by being “nominated” for the challenge, which ultimately spreads even more awareness – regardless if that person donates $1 or $100.
So whether you just do the challenge, just donate, or do both – you’re making an impact. Keep spreading the word!