SIS community accepts ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


By Grace Lee and Jasmine Oh

Most patients of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) die within three to five years of diagnosis by respiratory failure. Commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” ALS is a fatal illness that destroys nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The disease began increasing in awareness in mid-July, when the “Ice Bucket Challenge” gained popularity on social networking sites. People from all around the world, including celebrities such as LeBron James, participated in this cause by posting videos of themselves getting soaked by ice water and encouraging donations to the ALS Association.
As of Aug. 22, the organization received 53.3 million dollars in donations, about 24 times more than the 2.2 million dollars it received last summer.
“At first, the challenge seemed like a joke rather than a legitimate activity,” said Maggie Goodfellow (12), Ice Bucket Challenge participant. “But later, I watched a video of ALS patients expressing how grateful they were every time someone posted a video. The challenge is more than just dumping ice on yourself; it is a way for the world to connect with a single cause using social media.”
This Internet phenomenon also reached the SIS community, as many faculty members and students donated to the cause and accepted nominations for the challenge. More than 70 faculty members and students have posted their videos via social media. However, although many have expressed their support for this activity, some students believe that the purpose of the challenge has been distorted into a source of entertainment, rather than community service.
“The ALS Challenge was originally intended to synthesize the numbness and the lack of muscle control that real ALS patients go through,” Yoon Lee (11) said. “However, it ended up being an Internet fad. Now, people use moderately cold water to cool themselves off during the summer and famous individuals use massive amounts of water to build reputation.”
Nevertheless, the popularity of the challenge continues to grow with more than 1.2 million ice bucket challenge videos on YouTube and 2.2 million mentions on Twitter. Increased donations have aided the ALS Association in stabilizing support for ALS patients.
“When I got leukemia, there was a 50 percent chance that I would survive,” said Courtney Caldwell, Ice Bucket Challenge participant. “But now, people with the same disease have a 90 percent chance of survival. This shows there is hope. Finding a cure for ALS will take longer, but as of now, this challenge has done a great job to help patients feel recognized.”