On social media lately, I’ve been deluged with posts of songs from the movie Frozen and now most recently, with the ice bucket challenge. If you, like me, have been living under a rock, let me bring you up to speed. The movie Frozen has one really great song, “Let it Go,” that children and parents everywhere are singing and the #icebucketchallenge is a fundraising and awareness campaign for ALS that has gone viral across the continent and is fast spreading around the world. Both of them are apropos for our unseasonably chilly summer.
The ice bucket challenge was inspired by baseball player, Pete Frates, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or ALS. His friends banded together and challenged other friends and family, sports icons and superstars to donate $100 to an ALS charity or dump a bucket of ice water over their heads (and some people did both). A video of accepting the challenge, then doing the challenge is to be posted on the Internet providing exponential word of mouth to the cause. After the icy dump, the person who completes the challenge then nominates specific individuals to take up the challenge.
In Canada, the campaign really only got legs in mid-August and in three consecutive days, ALS Canada marked three$1 million dollar donation days in a row, starting August 20th, This blew their humble original target of raising $100,000 out of the proverbial icy cold water. Now they’ve had to amend their goal upwards a few times and as of writing it now stands at $7.5 million, as donations raised are now at $5,670,477. The previous target of $5 million was trounced on August 24th.
The United States is seeing the same leap in donations, but tenfold. The campaign has been backed by some serious star power: politicians, athletes, and celebrities are all getting in on the fun with their own twists to the challenge.
Charlie Sheen dumped $10,000 over his head, which he promised to donate to ALS charities and then he challenged Ashton Kutcher and other Two and a Half Men stars to reciprocate. Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek The Next Generation fame, also took a refined approach by writing a cheque in his video, and then grasping the ice bucket, and instead of tipping it over his head he plucked two ice cubes from it, and poured himself a scotch: indeed a much more civilized way of using ice cubes.
Both of these gentlemen focused on the importance of raising money and awareness for ALS and not just taking part in the most epic wet t-shirt contest of all time. (Though seeing Cristiano Ronaldo, soccer legend, wearing nothing but a tight Speedo for the challenge was a decent way to spend a minute out of my day). My favourite non-celebrity video features a trio of women rapping about ALS and the challenge to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby”.
In the spirit of continuing the focus on donations and awareness, ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a currently incurable progressive neuromuscular disease. Those living with ALS lose the ability to use their muscles, and eventually need assistance to even breathe. According to the ALS.ca website, two to three Canadians die of the disease every day.
Ten percent of cases have a hereditary link, but where no family history exists the causes of ALS are unknown. Various websites cite inconclusive evidence that head trauma including from contact sports, and military service increase a person’s risk of ALS.
Much research is required on causes and a cure, and that means much money is required. To donate, go to www.als.ca/icebucketchallenge or call ALS Canada at 1-800-267-4257. If you want to actively participate in raising funds but don’t want to be a human popsicle, there are also annual hikes for ALS, the cycle for a cure, and a walk for ALS.
I hope this huge influx of money will spur research that will identify new causes and a cure, because there could be no better fairytale ending, not even from the movie Frozen.
I have yet to be called out to participate in the challenge, but if I am, I will definitely tie the two trending social media ribbons together and have the “Let it Go” song line in my head as I complete the challenge: “The cold never bothered me anyway.”