The Ice Bucket Challenge: 


Around the world, millions of individuals have recently participated in the "Ice Bucket Challenge." The charitable challenge spread like wildfire across social media platforms, and has acquired participants in such wide-spread nations as Germany, Thailand, India, Brazil, and Australia. Despite the hype, however, many individuals are still in the dark regarding the act and its origins, perhaps due to the incredibly rapid spread of the event. What exactly is the Ice Bucket Challenge, and what cause does it support?

The history of the Ice Bucket Challenge can be traced back to a number of "cold water challenges" filmed across the United States in 2013 and early 2014. In these challenges, individuals were often dared to jump into a body of water, or dump a bucket of cold water over their head. Those who declined the challenge would often be asked to donate a significant amount of money to a charitable cause, with the dollar amount being lessened if one chose to complete the task. Though many of these challenges were tied to charitable giving, no particular charity was yet associated with the event. 

After word of the challenge grew, a number of individuals began promoting the challenge in association with the ALS Association, a charitable organization that works to promote research, treatment, and care for individuals suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease" throughout much of the United States. This disease severely affects nerve cells in the human spine and brain. The degeneration of these motor neurons eventually leads to reduced muscle control throughout the human body. Those affected commonly suffer from muscle spasms, muscle weakness, and difficulty performing common tasks such as speaking and breathing. Sadly, the majority of people die within four years of diagnosis. In all cases, ALS is ultimately fatal. Less than 5% of those diagnosed with the disease will survive for more than a decade. 

The most popular incarnation of the Ice Bucket Challenge requires that participants pour a bucket of ice water over their heads, documenting the event with filmed footage. If an individual is nominated for the challenge, he or she is asked to participate within the next 24 hours. Participants are asked to donate $10 to the ALS Association if they choose to participate, or $100 if they would prefer to opt out of the cold water dousing. Some variations of the challenge claim that one can "opt out" of donating by participating in the challenge; most individuals, however, choose to make a charitable donation, most commonly to the ALS Association, but occasionally to other organizations as well. 

The Ice Bucket Challenge went viral in August 2014. Golfer Chris Kennedy and former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates are credited with having focused the Ice Bucket Challenge on fundraising for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis research. A relative of Kennedy's suffered from ALS for over a decade, and Frates continues to struggle with the disease today. From here, the challenge spread to Facebook and Twitter, with high-profile celebrities, politicians, athletes, and businessmen taking part as well. Notable participants include Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Matt Damon, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, Justin Bieber, Kate Upton, and dozens more. Famed physicist Stephen Hawking, who has suffered from ALS for over 50 years, participated as well, with his children acting as his proxies for the ice bucket drenching. 

Though some have criticized the Ice Bucket Challenge for being self-promoting rather than altruistic, the viral phenomenon has generated unprecedented support for ALS charities and causes. Perhaps most importantly, the Ice Bucket Challenge has raised awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Between August 1st and August 27th alone, the ALS Wikipedia article had 2,717,754 views, compared to a mere 1,662,842 views for the twelve months prior to the challenge. 

ALS Association CEO Barbara Newhouse says that the wide-spread conversation about ALS is unprecedented in the history of the organization. "While the monetary donations are absolutely incredible, the visibility that this disease is getting as a result of the challenge is truly invaluable," Newhouse stated. One media analyst even claims that the Ice Bucket Challenge has led to more Google searches than the events in Gaza, Iraq, and Ferguson combined. With over 2,300,000 Ice Bucket Challenge videos posted on YouTube, nearly 4.5 million mentions on Twitter, and millions of views on the most popular Ice Bucket Challenge clips, it is clear that this viral dare has evolved into something greater. What began as a friendly charity event has been transformed into a worldwide call to cure ALS once and for all. 

Ultimately, the success of the Ice Bucket Challenge can be seen in the numbers. The viral campaign not only succeeded in raising awareness for the disease, but also raised incredible amounts of money for ALS research and care. Over three million individuals have donated to the ALS Association, with many others contributing to such organizations as the Motor Neurone Disease Association, a British organization also working to cure ALS. As of September 3rd, the ALS Association has raised over $107 million dollars through Ice Bucket Challenge donations, compared to less than $3 million raised during a similar time frame last year.

All in all, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has been a massive success, and will likely transform the way organizations plan charitable fundraising in the future. The event has proven to be more than just a social media fad and has benefitted ALS research tremendously, raising awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and funding research and treatment for the thousands of individuals suffering from the disease worldwide. 

We are proud to have contributed to this worthwhile cause through our own Ice Bucket Challenge here at Golling Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM and have posted the videos below for everyone to enjoy. We encourage others to consider making a donation to the ALS Association as well.
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