WASHINGTON — The “Ice Bucket Challenge” that is sweeping the nation has turned into a social media phenomenon. But is the icy challenge, that’s gone viral, bogus or does it really help benefit a national charity? Well, it turns out it is quite legitimate.
ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association President and CEO Barbara Newhouse says, as of Saturday, the organization has received nearly $11.4 million in donations in comparison to the $1.7 million it received for the same time period last year (July 29-Aug. 16, 2013). Newhouse says she is grateful for the unprecedented outpouring of support and that the money is a game changer in the fight against the disease which is 100 percent fatal.
The challenge is to take a bucket of ice water and dump it on your head, tape it and post it on social media. Then you invite, nominate or challenge a few friends to do the same within 24 hours. If a person doesn’t take the challenge, they’re supposed to make a $100 donation to the ALS Association.
Everyone from Martha Stewart to Bill Gates is taking on the challenge and raising funds for ALS research which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Newhouse says besides the massive boost in funds for research, it’s also raising awareness about the progressive neurodegenerative disease that has no cure and impacts cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Currently, there’s only one FDA-approved drug that helps extend a person’s life by two to three months.
After a person is diagnosed, ALS leads to total paralysis and death in two to five years.
“With more people aware and more people engaged in the fight against ALS, we are poised to work collaboratively with not only other ALS organizations, but also with pharmaceutical companies and academia to expedite new treatments for people impacted by the disease,” Newhouse adds.