ALS Challenge Accepted: But Why?


CC Licensed, taken by Chris Rand

Green Bay local radio and TV personality John Maino performs the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

“The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge,” a fundraising campaign that aimed to bring attention to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as the Lou Gehrig’s disease, has become an internet sensation. In just a few months, videos of people from around the globe dumping buckets of ice over their heads inundated most forms of social media. But as the craze died down and news feeds steadily returned to celebrity gossip, the question remained: How did the challenge help?

The widespread support for this philanthropic campaign called on all sorts of influential people from former U.S. president George W. Bush to musician Harry Styles to take on the challenge and spread awareness for this unfamiliar disease. The increase in interest in this challenge amongst celebrities caused it to spread globally. This resulted in large amounts of donations, surpassing a hundred-million dollars as of August 29, according to the ALS Association.

This large sum of money, which has been raised to research and develop a cure for ALS, a potentially fatal disease, came as a pleasant surprise to many, including Erin Fleming, the associate director of the charity Project ALS. “It’s been incredible, we are somewhat shocked at how many people are ‘putting their money where their mouths are’ for this challenge — in our experience, it’s difficult for awareness campaigns to translate into dollars, but the ice bucket challenge has certainly succeeded on both fronts,” Fleming told The Washington Post.

Many ISSH students took part in the ALS ice bucket challenge. “Although I myself didn’t donate, I think that the ALS Ice bucket challenge was in fact effective. ALS victims watch those videos and it comforts them to see that people are taking notice of the disease’s seriousness,” said Chisato (10) who participated in the challenge.

Other students, however, were not as keen. “I think the fact that many celebrities participated in the challenge really helped to spread awareness for ALS, but I don’t think that [the videos] taught us anything because most [celebrities] didn’t explain about the disease, they just did the challenge,” said Signe (10).

Perhaps the ALS ice bucket didn’t have a direct educational impact on the public, but if something as simple as dumping a bucket of ice on your head gives support and comfort to those who need it, it might be something worthwhile after all.

“This is the first really successful advocacy we’ve ever really had and I am so so grateful. You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel. Lifts my spirits. Lifts every single ALS patients spirit. You are really, truly making a difference and we are so so grateful,” said Anthony Carbajal, a 26-year-old photographer who suffers from ALS, in a heart-wrenching video addressing those who participated in the challenge.

Despite the controversies, this campaign has helped to raise a large sum of money which will go towards continuing research to help those affected by ALS in the near future.


People around the world engaged in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
CC Licensed, taken by Kim Quintano
People around the world engaged in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge