Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ALS Challenge


While Derek and I were in Michigan for my sister's wedding, my dad was nominated for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge by a friend. My sister and I took great delight in explaining how he would have to pour a bucket of ice water on his head. At first he refused, but we wore him down and about an hour before I had to leave for the airport, the bucket came down.

In case anyone reading this is wondering what I'm talking about, here's a brief explanation. (Please keep in mind that we're talking about a viral social media phenomenon and I am not an authority on this subject, if there even is such a thing. This is my interpretation based on the videos I've watched.)

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:
  1. The purpose of the challenge is to raise money for research into a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Many people know it as the disease that afflicts Stephen Hawking.
  2. If challenged, you have 24 hours to respond.
  3. Responses must be filmed and posted online.
  4. Traditionally, nominees could respond to the challenge by either donating to ALS research (www.alsa.org/donate) or pouring a bucket of ice water on their heads. However, the challenge has evolved, and now it seems the gracious thing to do is donate regardless. There have been great examples of people donating without any ice water involved. (See Sir Patrick Stewart's video.)
  5. Nominees who do pour ice water on their heads get to nominate three new people to accept the challenge in turn.
For his nominations, my dad chose his two sons-in-law and - duh duh DUH - my mom! Her face when he announced it during filming was priceless, and any trepidation she had about pouring a bucket of ice water on his head before the announcement went out the window at that point.

This morning, Derek completed the challenge. In the video (below), he mentions our friend Will who was diagnosed with ALS three years ago. Will's wife once referred to ALS as an orphan disease, which means it's under-researched and under-resourced (treatment-wise) because it's rare and because many ALS patients lose their lives so quickly that even if pharmaceutical companies did create effective treatments, they would not have enough customers to make the drugs profitable. Those words have haunted me, and for that reason, I am so glad this fundraising scheme has gone viral. When I made our donation this morning, I was thrilled to see that ALSA reported donations exceeding $94 million in the past 30 days. I hope to see that figure double or triple before the fad wanes.

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