Your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds may be peppered with videos of celebrities and your friends dumping buckets of ice water on their heads to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
The idea of using buckets of ice water as a platform for ALS awareness came from former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2012. Together with fellow ALS patient Pat Quinn, who inspired the charity Quinn For The Win, the pair began to challenge their social networks to take the plunge in late July. Pat’s brother Dan posted a video on the charity’s Facebook page in support of the challenge.
The Quinn for the Win Facebook page states that if the people you call to take the challenge fail to step up, they must donate $100 to an ALS charity of their choice (though there is no strict way of enforcing that).
Frates also posted his own ice bucket challenge video, but decided to forego the ice water part. Patients with ALS have trouble sensing hot and cold, and therefore have trouble regulating their body temperature. Instead, he chose a more symbolic homage with a little head bopping to Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice Baby.”
ALS is a disease of the nerve cells and spinal cord that controls voluntary muscle movement. Those who suffer from the disease experience muscle weakness, twitching, little to no use of their arms and legs and difficulty speaking, breathing and swallowing. The disease is also named for the famous baseball player Lou Gehrig, who died of the illness in 1941. According to the ALS Association, approximately 5,600 people are diagnosed with the illness every year.
To participate in the ice bucket challenge, willing supporters must do the following:
- Fill up a nice big bucket of ice water. The colder, the better.
- Grab a friend to record you on a phone or camera. (Your video should mention Strike Out ALS for Pete Frates, Quinn For The Win or Ice Bucket Challenge.)
- Pour the bucket of ice water on your head. Pro tip: Have some towels handy.
- Post the video on social media. Then, call out three friends who you challenge to do it next.
Many participants have also been using the hashtags #icebucketchallenge, #StrikeOutALS and #QuinnForTheWin in their posts.
But challenge accepted or not, people are donating anyway. A representative from the ALS Association told Mashable that the organization saw nearly a fourfold increase in donations at the national office of The ALS Association between July 26 and Aug. 6 compared to the same period last year.
Donations specifically between Aug. 4 and Aug. 6 have been 10 times higher compared to the same time period in 2013, the spokesperson added.
Many celebrities from all the fields have also stepped up to show support for ALS.