People around the globe are joining in on the fight to end ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig disease, by participating in the ice bucket challenge. The phenomenon started simply enough when Pete Frates was diagnosed with the disease, and he and his wife starting doing research, as they knew next to nothing about the disease itself. Frates, his wife and another person with the disease, Pat Quinn, started the challenge within their own families. They challenged five family members to either donate $100 dollars to ALS research. or dump a bucket of ice water over their heads, or both.
ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, attacks the spine and muscles while generally leaving the brain intact. It comes with much pain as the afflicted are well aware of what is happening to their bodies. This makes it as mentally challenging as it is physically. It is a fast-moving illness that atrophy’s muscles, makes it hard to swallow and breath, and generally leaves its victims in wheel chairs with feeding tubes. It affects everyone around the afflicted as it leaves the patient with no choice but to depend on others for basic needs.
Since the onset of the ice bucket challenge, over four million dollars has been raised, as local and international celebrities alike have taken part in this chilling event. Jimmy Fallon, Martha Stewart and Justin Timberlake are among those that took the challenge, as well as donating money. Many more celebrities have participated, along with a professional hockey player who took the challenge to a new level, having the ice water poured on him from a helicopter.
As the challenge gained popularity, many people videotaped themselves in the effort to get in on the viral sensation, but many failed to mention that it was a charitable event. The ice bucket challenge was not started to make a new YouTube sensation out of the boy-next-door. If every person that actually took part of the challenge had donated and passed the challenge on to five others, think of how much more money could have been raised. Many people have heard of Lou Gerig’s disease or ALS, but most do not know what it actually is, or how terrible the effects of the disease are on those that are diagnosed with it.
Although not everyone did this to raise awareness, the good thing is that attention really was brought to those who suffer, real money was raised for research, and those that are affected know that they are not alone. What Pete Frates and his wife started out of a simple challenge to their families in order to creatively donate money to the one thing that affected them the most was certainly not what they expected.
The video below is a compilation of those that have taken the plunge in Hollywood to the man who started it all and how he is coping. ALS’ research for a cure is something that many do not think about. With all the walks and runs for cancer, many diseases are left for only those affected to worry about. Bringing awareness for such a debilitating disease is important, and Frates’ wife sums it up by stating that if it takes dumping ice water from buckets over heads, then so be it.
by Kristi Cereska