ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raises money but not knowledge

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge raises money but not knowledge

Principal Scott Bacon smiles as he dumps ice water on Blue Valley West principal Brett Potts. BV raised $3,503.

Sally Cochran, Editor in Chief

Chris Kennedy had a genius idea, even if he didn’t recognize it at the time.

“But, who is Chris Kennedy?” you ask.

In July, Kennedy, a professional golfer, started the trend for the popular ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

According to a Fox News Affiliate, Kennedy received the dare and posted his video online, which led former baseball player Pete Frates, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), to join in.

Before Kennedy knew it, the challenge had become viral.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has done a world of good. As of Aug. 23, donations to the ALS Association had reached $94.3 million from the challenge.

But, even with all the donations that the Ice Bucket Challenge has generated, it isn’t the perfect fundraiser.

First, the premise of the challenge is somewhat flawed — pour ice over your head or donate money. The act of doing the challenge permits participants to avoid donating money, which is something that will actually fight ALS.

So, congrats. You have a video on your Facebook wall or a picture on Instagram showing how much you truly care but have made no actual effort to support the fight against ALS.

It’s a hard fact of life: No matter how many people say they want to combat the disease in videos on the internet, those videos don’t actually “strike out ALS.”

When Blue Valley West challenged Blue Valley to a fundraising competition, the whole point of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was successfully kept in view. Although Principal Scott Bacon won the honor of dumping ice water on Blue Valley West Principal Brett Potts and BV students received ice cream at the Aug. 29 soccer game, the focus was kept on raising money for ALS.

Really, only doing that — donating money to the ALS Association, which researches the disease and supports those who have it — truly supports the cause.

Many argue that even though not everyone who dumps a bucket of ice over his head donates, the Ice Bucket Challenge helps spread awareness of ALS.

However, from watching Ice Bucket Challenge videos, it’s hard to really tell if participants even know what the disease is. Hardly any of the videos have information about ALS or display any knowledge about it.

It’s hard to say that the challenge is “spreading awareness” when it really only teaches the acronym “ALS.” Knowing the disease exists is better than nothing, but the challenge would do more good if it taught what ALS is.

No one can claim the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is harmful in any way. But, when trends like this one go viral, we as a society must keep in mind the difference between actually supporting a cause and posting a video on the internet.


So, what is ALS?

“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 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.”

— ALS Association


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