Article by: Rom Villarica
Crazes and trends are so ubiquitous in the modern era that they seem to almost exist in everyday parts of life, but occasionally one comes along and sweeps all others to the side. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is one such trend, aiming to both gather donations for and spread awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative malady that severely damages motor neurons in the brain, causing muscle weakness and decay. The social-media phenomenon began with a video recorded by Massachusetts resident Pete Frates, a victim of the disease since 2012, that almost immediately went viral, piquing the interests of millions worldwide.
The rules of the challenge are simple. Participants must make a video of having a bucket of ice water dumped on themselves or donate $100 to an ALS charity of their choice. In the video, they must also indicate friends whom they would like to nominate for the challenge in order to spread awareness. The unique nature of the challenge has garnered a rather fanatical following; it is becoming increasingly common to see challenges completed on Facebook newsfeeds. There is even an atmosphere of competition associated with the challenge for the honor of having the most ostentatious video.
Granted, the fact that there is a choice to be made between making a donation and doing the challenge is controversial as it is far more common for nominees to choose the challenge over the donation, effectively denying elements of the challenge’s true purpose. However, it can be argued that the spreading of awareness gained through the challenge does more than simply compensate for the dearth of donors. Senior Robbi Sy holds the belief that the inherent embarrassment in the act of the challenge helps create an “exponential spread of awareness” that reaches far beyond the realm of the nominee’s friends and family. Fellow senior Mariel Guzman supports this idea, stating that the trend has roped in celebrities who have donated large amounts to research as well as heavily publicized ALS.
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has in fact raised an incredible $13.3 million in donations from over 250,000 people across the globe in just three weeks. Coupled with the mass awareness the challenge has evoked, it is clear that this particular trend, despite its sub-zero theme, has enjoyed a high degree of success.