Friday, August 15, 2014

In the Ice Bucket

If you have a Facebook account and have been paying any attention to it, you've seen the ice bucket challenge.

As you scroll along, you've seen friends, strangers, and celebrities stand there grinning as buckets of ice are dumped over their heads. They proceed to jump and squeal and challenge someone else to take on this pointless task. Sure, it's a hundred degrees outside and the ice probably feels good after the shock wears off, but how in the world does ice on someone's head help cure debilitating diseases? What does getting likes and comments do for those suffering from ALS? What is ALS?

Hi! I'm here to help answer some questions.

About a year ago, my father-in-law was diagnosed with ALS, but before that I'd never heard of it. You may recognize it as Lou Gehrig's disase, but you should know that it's a heavily under-researched neurodegenerative disease that has no cure at this time. Whoever started the ice bucket challenge started it not only to bring this disease to light, but to bring some dollars to the cause. It's more than a trendy hash tag and Facebook entertainment.

For my family {and everyone else affected by this disease}, there's more than ice and water in that bucket. It's more than a quick thrill on a hot August day. It's hope. It's the idea that spreading awareness and raising funds will lead to the answers that are severely lacking in this puzzle. It's support. It's the idea that friends and family are willing to help, whether it's tossing in a twenty or reaching the call for donations a little further. It's change. If we can help, why don't we? Why not reconsider your spending today? That snow cone won't help your life as much as answers will help those affected by ALS.

Just like posting the color of your bra won't cure breast cancer, and jumping into a lake in February won't help those with developmental diseases, the ice bucket challenge alone will do nothing for ALS.

If the skeptics out there are still thinking, "Well this is a great way to feel warm and fuzzy, but is this even making a difference?" The answer is yes. According to this article, the ALS Association has received $9.5 million since the ice bucket challenge began in late July, compared to a mere $1.6 million raised in the same time period last year. That is unbelievable, and for people like my father-in-law, it's more than dollars, it's encouragement.

I am not going to force you to dump ice on your head. I'm simply asking you not to roll your eyes as you page down past the dozens of ice bucket videos on Facebook. I'm asking you to stop, click on the link, and give. If you can't give, I'm asking you to spread it along to those who can. And, if you feel so inclined, start the challenge up with a bucket of your own and pass it through your friends list. You don't have to be tagged to help, and you don't have to be directly affected to donate:

Thank you. You can make a difference.

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