Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Awareness. Laughter. Support.

Most people have heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  It is a charity effort that has gone viral on the Internet. I was recently tagged for this challenge.  I only swim in heated pools, and a cold shower sounds like torture to me - so I really had to muster up enough courage to participate. 

A. Awareness

Once better known as Lou Gehrig's disease, the medical name Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (or at least the acronym ALS) has become a common topic of many recent conversations. Videos posted on social media sites of people being doused by icy-cold water have greatly increased awareness of the disease. Not every participant in the challenge has donated money, but many people have. The campaign has been so profitable that similar challenges have even been created to raise money and awareness for other worthy causes.

L. Laughter

There has been much creativity and humor in the video productions of these challenges. It is hard to dump water on someone's head - or have it dumped upon your own - without a laugh (and possibly a scream!) or two. If the challenge lacked this element of fun, it probably would not have been as successful. 

But ALS or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis itself is no laughing matter.  An incurable disease which leads to progressive paralysis and death is really much more appropriately a cause for tears. 

S. Support

Humor may be the element that solicits participation in the challenge, but feelings of empathy are what guide us to our wallets. Empathy - and in many cases, publicity! According to the rules of the ALS Challenge, once a person is "tagged" by someone else, they must do one of the following:
a.) produce a videotape of a bucket of ice-cold water being poured on their head 
b.) donate $100 to an ALS charity.  

To Participate or Not: 

Some people have opted not to participate or completely adhere to the rules of the challenge, because of an awareness of water shortages and various other concerns. Some of these people, however (Matt Damon and Charlie Sheen for example) have found other very creative ways to pledge their support.

I chose to participate in several ways 

So as not to appear a coward, I allowed my son to dump a cooler full of ice water on my head. My daughter and husband filmed the process and enjoyed witnessing my anxiety and discomfort!

What persuaded me to participate was the realization that just a few seconds of discomfort (cut short by a dip in our hot tub!) are incomparable to the agony suffered by ALS victims and their loved ones.  If my actions help increase awareness of ALS and lead to a cure, a videotape of me anxiously stumbling over my words and experiencing a few wet, chilly seconds is a small sacrifice for me to make! 

While it is true that we should all conserve water when we can, it was actually good for our grass to have a little extra water dumped upon it today. A lack of sanitation and water shortages are a global concern that should be taken seriously though. With this in mind, in addition to making a donation to ALS, my family and I also just sent a donation to water.org. Even if you are not tagged in this challenge, please consider donating whatever amount you can afford to ALS or at least one charity of your choice this year. 

I am publishing my Ice Bucket Challenge video in this post, (which will be published on Facebook also) with the hope that it will do more good than just provide you with a laugh.

Have you participated in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge yet?


This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog.  Check them out!


  1. congratulations on doing your challenge!!! :) i havent done yet but it looks like so much fun

  2. It actually was fun - and satisfying to be a part of such a worthwhile effort!

  3. So proud of you! That water looked cold. Glad you were able to jump in the hot tub after!

  4. Great job Susan! Now are you ready to take the #plungeforalzheimers ?

    1. I left a comment on your blog Rena. Your plunge video was awesome!
      I am hoping the one I did for #ALSicebucketchallenge will count for the #plungeforalzheimers too. One video of me on the internet is quite enough right now! But I did just pledge a donation to you and your team for the Alzheimer's walk.
      You are truly an inspiration to us all!

  5. Congratulations. Great cause - and worth the discomfort. Particularly for those of us who don't feel the ice.

  6. Good for you....that took some nerve on your part.

    1. Waiting for the cold water to be poured on my head took courage - but to be truthful, what was even harder was sharing the silly video of myself! I had to remind myself that it was for a good cause!

  7. The real heroes are the researchers, caregivers and people living with ALS - my part of raising awareness and a donation is very small - but it feels good to try to do something to help.


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