If you are following social media recently, you may have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The challenge goes as the following: either dump a bucket of ice water over yourself or donate a sum of money to the ALS Association (usually $100 or whatever you can afford). Then, you nominate three other friends and they must do the same within 24/48/72 hours. This challenge according to Google Trends hit off towards the end of July. Today, participants of the challenge are world wide and include ordinary people like us and big celebrities too (i.e. Lady Gaga, Chris Pratt, Oprah, Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates, Jimmy Fallon, Oprah Winfrey, etc.)
Over the month (roughly) that this has been going on, a total of $15.9 million was raised, which is up from $1.8 million during the same time period last year. So as far as results go, the challenge is a success. Funding for a cure for ALS has dramatically increased and more people are aware of ALS – but are they really?
Many people may know that a disease ALS exists and that its also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, but does everyone know what ALS does to an individual? ALS is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.” (ALSA.org). Over time, victims lose controls of their muscles and eventually face death.
What is so deadly about ALS is not only its impact on an individual, but also that fact that their is little victims can do. Currently there is no cure or treatment that halts or reverses ALS. To further add, the cause of ALS is not completely understood.
However, there may be hope. According to the ALS Association, “there is one FDA approved drug, riluzole, that modestly slows that progress of ALS”. Could this be the answer we have been looking for? Or at least a start for a string of medications that will lead to a cure.
Now, there are many critics of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Some say that the challenge is just an internet hype that isn’t educating the public about ALS. Even worse, the challenge may just make people associate ALS with an amusing challenge to do with friends and make videos of, rather than associating ALS with a condition that needs pressing attention.
Others, however, counter this by staying regardless of it the public understands ALS completely or not, there is funding. These people say that the general public won’t be able to contribute towards a treatment for ALS other than providing funding. The world’s leading scientists would then use the funding to come up with a solution. In other words, it does’t matter is ordinary citizens understand the disease completely, as long as they donate.
Regardless of what side you are on (if you are actively involved in the debate), the fact that the internet was able to raise so much money in such little time is amazing. Perhaps this challenge gives us hope that the world can work together on any task in harmony to achieve a common goal. Who knows? Maybe this is just over speculation, or maybe its not? What you choose to believe is your opinion. Overall though, we are all together in hopes of eliminating amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.