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ALS Bucket Challenge

Unless you live with your head in the sand, you have undoubtedly heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Every social network media is involved tweeting, liking and sharing it, and that is key to the success for this sensational campaign.
It is taking over social networks, for some critics ad-nausem, but it has helped raise millions worldwide for ALS research. On August 18, 2014, the ALS Association announced that it had received $15.6 million in donations compared to $1.8 million during the same time period (July 29 to August 18) in the prior year.


No question. Something about this challenge appeals to the masses. It is simple, easy and catchy. You dump a bucket of ice water on your head while being filmed, you donate to the charity and then you call-out others publicly to do the same within 24 hours. The call-out feature ensures that the challenge is passed on, that ALS is mentioned and a donation is made.


Literally thousands of videos can be viewed online, some hitting viral status like those of Bill Gates and Charlie Sheen. The latter held a bucket in his hands as he accepted the challenge. Sheen then proceeded to pour the contents of the bucket on his head – no, it was not ice water but rather $10,000 in cold hard cash – his donation. He then called out some of the remaining members of the Two and a Half Men cast, Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher, as well as the series co-creator Chuck Lorre.


There has been some debate about who first came up with the challenge, but according to ALS Canada, it originates from a 29-year old American from Massachusetts and former Boston College baseball player named Peter Frautes who lives with the disease. Most know of the name Lou Gehrig’s disease, few know it as ALS, which stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. One of the client services provided by ALS Canada includes loaning equipment for the rapidly progressing disease. People living with the disease become progressively paralyzed due to degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Eighty per cent of people with ALS die within two to five years of diagnosis– unable to breathe or swallow. Ten per cent of those affected may live for 10 years or longer.


Someone with ALS could quickly decline, and need a walker, then a manual wheelchair, then a power wheelchair, in quick succession. ALS Canada helps to loan out the equipment, as well as provide other services. One of the silent side-affects is isolation. The paralysis causes immobility in the person and this causes the isolation.  This challenge is making the masses talk about ALS – which makes a person suffering with the disease feel more connected to the community they were forced to leave behind.


In a recent interview on a CBC Radio One show The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti, ‘Taking On the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge’, a well-spoken Tammy Moore, the interim CEO of ALS Canada, defended the campaign noting it does not matter why people take the challenge, only that it is raising awareness and funds for ALS research. As a marketing major, she has been involved in and developed many important fundraising campaigns, however, none that have reached the magnitude of this one.


In Canada, the Sidney Crosby call-out may have started the chain reaction. Within the first ten days, the Canadian chapter of ALS reportedly received $700,000 in donations. Other Canadian notables who have taken the challenge range from Justin Trudeau to the infamous Rob Ford, and well, likely your local major too.


Go ahead, take the plunge (before a friend or foe nominates you).  Simply go to ALS Canada if you would like to donate today.



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