Thoughts about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

I am sure that during the last days you came across people dumping buckets of ice water on their heads – either in person, on your facebook newsfeed or in the news. And you probably wondered why people would be drenching themselves in iced-water voluntaringly? I wondered as well and did a little bit of research about theALS Ice Bucket Challenge after being nominated for it by friends from the U.S. and from Togo. Thank you Veohnti and Matt for the nomination!

As you probably have already heard, the challenge dares nominated participants to have a bucket of ice water poured on their head. One common stipulation gives 24 hours from the time they are nominated to complete the dare; otherwise, the participant is asked to donate money to charity – in this case to research for the ALS Association. It went viral throughout social media during the Northern Hemisphere summer of 2014 and is currently the “hottest” topic on the internet. The amazing fact: The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised  $15.6 million so far for the ALS Association to research Lou Gehrig’s disease.

So what is ALS? Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed. Short: It is a nerve disease that results in loss of muscle control.

I am usually very sceptical with activities similar to this one (you might remember the Neck nominations for which thousands of teenagers were drinking whole bottles of alcohol mixtures with one sip and nominating others to do so as well, resulting in worldwide hospitalizations and deaths), however after reading more about the ALS disease itself and finding out that the Ice Bucket Challenge is an official ativity, supported by the ALS Association (you can read more on their website about it by clicking here) and that is so far raised over 15 million US dollars, contributed to a statistical increase in  awareness for the ALS Association as well as charity donations in general, I thought about the fact that the ice bucket challenge might be something good. Considering all of my previous concerns, I also donated money to the ALS foundation as I believe that the challenge is fun and that awareness is important, but just awareness itself is just a small step. I hope that with all these millions of money and the media spotlight the ALS Association will soon be able to find a cure for this disease. The only concern I have however is the magnitude of this challenge. What I men by that is the amount of water used by people worldwide who have taken part in this challenge:more than 5 million gallons of water – roughly equivalent to the daily water use of 56,000 people.For those of us living in water scarce parts of the country and in communities where the threat of running out of water is real, watching people pour  buckets of such a precious resource over their head (for fun in some cases) is very upsetting. But there are alternatives: instead of drenching yourslf in ice-water after being nominated you can just donate, make a video about ALS or even make a variation of the ice-bucket challenge, such as the young man in the video below that I came across my research. He challenges his friends to collect a bucket full of trash from the ground and discard it:


With UWC spirit in mind and hope to spread awareness and raise more funds, my nominations went to friends from India, Greece, Armenia, Kosovo, Pakistan, the U.S., Israel and the UK. When doing the challenge, please use the hashtagand #strikeoutals as the ALS Association is collecting statistics regarding worldwide awareness. Those who have been nominated by me have 24 hours to complete the challenge or donate 100 US Dollars to the ALS Association (but I wholeheartedly ask you to donate a little bit of money even if you do complete the challenge on time as every single donation counts).

For more information or donations, please visit the ALS Association’s website: o