By Delaney Dilzer
Internet challenges, such as the Baby Food Challenge and the Cinnamon Challenge, can become viral and travel throughout America until almost everyone on social media has attempted them. This summer it was the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge that became the most popular challenge.
The rules of the Ice Bucket Challenge are to pour a bucket of ice water on oneself after being nominated and donating money to the cause. Then the person nominates others. If one does not complete the challenge they are supposed to donate more money.
The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association created the Ice Bucket Challenge so that people could raise money for research. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. If you do not complete it in twenty-four hours, you must donate $100 towards the association. Consequently, the ALSA has raised about $99 million so far from the challenge, according to their webpage.
ALS is a disease in the nerve cells located in the central nervous system, brain, and spinal cord. It normally starts with muscle spasms in the arms or legs, and then spreads throughout the whole body. Approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with ALS each year in America, according to the association.
Unfortunately, a patient who has ALS has a life expectancy of two to five years after being diagnosed. Doctors are still trying to find the cause of the disease, but it is mostly hereditary and not contagious.
The Translational Research Advancing Therapies (TREAT) program has clinics, which patients can attend to get help. Some of these therapies, including new drug discoveries and clinical trials, can help prolong survival of a patient. There are also other treatments, such as physical therapy, that help relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients.
Another purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness for people with the disease and for research efforts. When the ice-cold water hits its victim, the cold water shocks his or her nerve cells and paralyzes the victim even if it is only for a second. That is how ALS feels, except that it affects ALS patients for their whole lives.
The Ice Bucket Challenge has become very well known in the past months. Many celebrities including Bill Gates, Justin Timberlake, and others have completed the challenge. In fact, according to Facebook, around 2.4 million challenge videos have been uploaded this year.
The association has succeeded in spreading news about the disease. The association hopes to continue the success from this challenge and continue to receive donations so that they can increase research efforts and hopefully find a cure for the disease.