Since the “ALS ice bucket challenge” went viral over midsummer, awareness and donations for the life devastating disease have skyrocketed.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 26, the ALS Association website declared that $88.5 million have been raised thanks to the help of 1.9 million new donors. In the same July 29 to Aug. 26 time period last year, the association raised only $2.6 million.
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a crippling disease that slowly wipes out the motor neurons in the brain and spine. Gradually, the terminal illness completely cuts all connections from neurons to muscles and paralyzes the body. Patients will eventually even need help to breathe from respiratory machines.
ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player was diagnosed with ALS in the 1930s. Despite the fact that it has been known about for so long, there is still no cure nor proper treatment for ALS. With the ice bucket challenge, many are trying to change that.
The premise of the challenge is for participants to either film themselves dumping ice water on their head or donate to an ALS-related cause.
Although the origins of the challenge can’t be traced, the challenge initially picked up momentum when Matt Lauer, anchor for NBC’s Today Show, performed the challenge on air on July 15. The challenge has since spread to hundreds of celebrities and millions of social media users.
However, many critique the challenge, saying too many participants opt out of donating and dumping ice water on their heads doesn’t help the cause.
“I think ALS awareness is good but wasting water is bad,” said junior Stephen Shannon. “I feel like the ice bucket eclipses the importance of the awareness.”
Sophomore, Michael Arnould feels similarly.
“Even if the challenge may seem vain, it’s still for a good cause at the end of the day,” Arnould said.
But Youtuber, Anthony Carbajal, had a different response to the ice bucket challenge. Carabajal, 26, was diagnosed with ALS in January earlier this year. His mom is suffering from ALS, and his grandmother passed away from it as well.
In his video, “Young man with ALS heartbreaking response to Ice Bucket Challenge” from the channel “bizitoto *HD*,” Carabajal discusses his terrifying experience with ALS. Citing that only 30,000 people in the U.S. suffer from ALS, he expresses his frustration with pharmaceutical companies that don’t invest enough money in ALS, simply because it isn’t “profitable.”
Carabajal goes on to state that “ALS is so, so f****** scary” as he describes what facing down the disease is like. He then says some very positive remarks about the ice bucket challenge.
“This is the first successful advocacy we’ve ever really had,” said Carabajal. “Every single challenge...lifts my spirits [and] lifts every single ALS patient’s spirits. You are really truly making a difference and we are so, so grateful.”
But Carabajal isn’t the only one grateful for the donations. According to President and CEO of the ALS Association, Barbara Newhouse, the association is incredibly thankful for the donations and working diligently to allocate the copious funds.
“This is isn’t a matter of spending these dollars quickly,” said Newhouse. “It’s a matter of investing these dollars prudently to achieve maximum impact in our quest to help people living with the disease and those yet to be diagnosed.”
Donations can be made to ALS research at alsa.org and als.net; however, patrons are encouraged to research where they contribute because some donations might go towards stem cell research.