Yesterday, Luke (Lifestootall) and I participated in the ALS ice bucket challenge. Like so many others around the world, we filled up buckets full of incredibly cold water and poured it over our heads in support of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's Disease. We laughed, nominated our friends and even got the dogs in on the action. I even made a gif of Luke's face as he got doused:
After we cleaned up, we went inside and donated a few dollars to ALS, and I was really excited to see that the Ice Bucket Challenge has helped the foundation raise over $50 million in a few short weeks. With all of the horrible things going on in the world, it makes me pretty happy to see everyone uniting to make a difference in a small number of people's lives.
I'll be honest, without this Ice Bucket Challenge, I probably would not have donated to the foundation for a cure for ALS. I vaguely knew about the disorder before and the horror it can bring, but I don't really know anyone affected by it. Other causes are at the forefront of my mind, such as lupus research, mental health research and stigma reduction, Holocaust education, help for elderly Holocaust survivors who are lonely and/or have minimal resources, human rights protection and dog rescue. But just because those are my pet causes, doesn't mean I can't stop for a moment and consider that there are others who need help aside from those who fall into those categories.
And as someone who has been criticized for doing charity work before, I understand that any kind of good effort is going to bring about those who shake their heads. They say what you're doing isn't effective, that it is being done in the wrong way, that this is wrong, that that is wrong. And the Ice Bucket Challenge is no different. With bloggers, writers and people all over my newsfeed taking their time to bitch about it, I'm going to attempt to address their concerns.
This challenge is narcissistic and focuses on those who are doing the challenge instead of the disease
Humans by nature are narcissistic. Many people participate in charities because it makes them feel good. But that shouldn't negate their efforts. Even if their motivation is purely selfish, it is still translating to a selfless act.
Also, the challenge is fun. People like to have fun, even in charity settings. Participating in a charity event shouldn't just be boring and somber. It should be a way to raise spirits, hope and encouragement. Depending on the context, it should be putting smiles on people's faces, not making them feel desperate. Yes, an Ice Bucket Challenge may not be acceptable for a Holocaust education charity, but it would definitely be for lupus support, mental health research, dog rescue, etc., etc.
The challenge wastes resources
Okay, fair. But a lot of people, including myself, have sought alternatives. You can do the challenge over a swimming pool, at the beach with freezing cold Northern California ocean water, a spring or lake or over plants in order to water them. A friend of mine is living in a place where there is a drought, so as an alternative to using drinking water, he turned his shower setting to the coldest possible and sprayed himself for a couple of seconds. Verne Troyer, of mini-me fame, used milk in order to conserve water.
It is unfair that ALS is getting attention when there are so many worthy causes
There are tons of worthy causes out there and ALS research is just one of them. This challenge has raised awareness for a disease that many people didn't know about previously. I've actually heard people say they had no idea what ALS was until the Ice Bucket Challenge went viral and now are educated on it. Cancer research gets a lot of attention, but it isn't "unfair." It's just how it is. ALS is getting its moment in the sun. Deal with it. No one is telling you not to donate to a charity of your choice or not to support something closer to your heart.
But I have xyz disease and I'm having to suffer in silence while ALS gets attention
Dude, I have lupus SLE. It will likely never get an Ice Bucket Challenge. But that doesn't mean I don't also spread awareness about lupus. I write articles that have gone live on XO Jane. I write about it in this blog. I do videos on YouTube about it. You do not have to suffer in silence. You can even create your own initiative for your disease if you wish. Before this challenge, tons of people with ALS were suffering in silence as well.
I can't financially spare $100. It is unfair that this is being "challenged" or "demanded" of me.
I can't spare $100 either. So I didn't donate $100, but I gave what I could. You can give as little as $5. If $5 is truly hurting your resources, then don't donate it. No one will think you're a bad person for it--it's just your current situation. But you can still spread awareness.
This challenge will not cure ALS. Pouring a bucket of ice on your head doesn't do anything.
Um, duh. It is what it represents.
What do you guys think? Did you participate?
If you still remain unconvinced, here are a couple of videos of people for whom this challenge is really helping:
The Ice Bucket Challenge has helped raise over $200,000 for a family who have three generations affected by the disease.
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