Unless you live in a cave, you’ve probably seen videos or pictures or at least heard someone tell about people dousing themselves with a bucket of ice water to raise awareness and donations for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). It’s a national sensation, gone viral, crazy, and some people think it’s just plain stupid.
ALS is most commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, after the beloved Yankee’s baseball star who brought the disease national attention in 1939, when he announced he had been diagnosed and retired from baseball. People with ALS suffer a progressive neurodegenerative process that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. This includes involuntary movement, such as blinking, breathing and gag reflex. Patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed.
As many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time, and there is no known cure.
According to Time Magazine, the ALS Association was able to raise nearly $16 million from July 29 through August 18—an incredible figure, given that for all of 2012, the organization pulled in a total of about $19 million.
According to the same article (and several others), there are a lot of people bitching about how silly it is for everyone to dump cold water on themselves. To these people I say this: get back to me when you’ve held the hand of someone dying from ALS and watched the frustration in the eyes of a mind that is perfectly acute trapped in a body that will not function. We’ll talk about a waste of awareness after you stroll through pretty much any nursing home in the U.S., and see a 32-year-old man or 40-year-old woman strapped to a wheelchair with a feed and trach tube, suffering from a wasting disease.We took the challenge, you bet. We donated and we dumped water on our own heads and generally made a spectacle of ourselves and that doesn’t bother us a bit. If it bothers you, don’t watch it. Don’t be that person who complains when someone hands you a delicious ice cream cone, because it’s cold.
Todd Dills, Mike Ryan and Mike Rowe – go look silly for charity. We await your videos.