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Ice bucket challenge not as charitable as advertised

If a Florida Gulf Coast University student donates to a charity and doesn’t post about it on social media… did it actually happen?
Apparently not.
If your social media feed is anything like mine, it’s cluttered with videos of friends, family and celebrities contributing to the latest and lamest fad since the #SelfieSunday: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.
It’s simple really. Donate $100 to the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association or dump a bucket of ice water on your head. Record your icy demise, post it on the internet, challenge three more people, and POOF!
Instant hero, just add water.
This is almost as good as when choking on cinnamon was popular.
Aside from the annoying fad, has anyone thought about how much precious water that is actually being wasted?
Now, I’m no mathematician, but assume everyone who completed the challenge used at least two gallons of ice cold water. Approximately 1.5 million videos have been uploaded to Facebook. So that’s (at least) 3 million gallons of water that we have wasted. That’s about four and a half Olympic-size swimming pools.
So there’s that.
Now, let me make myself clear. The results of this new, dare I say, slightly obnoxious, trend are awesome.
As of Tuesday, Aug. 19, The ALS Association reported to have received $22.9 million in donations from July 29 to Aug. 19. This is compared to $1.9 million raised during the same time period last year. These donations have come from existing donors and 453,210 new donors to The Association.
Several celebrities have also jumped on the bandwagon. Celebrities such as the newly knighted Batman, Ben Affleck, Lady Gaga and LeBron James have taken an icy plunge. Some have taken a different route and let thousands of dollars rain down on them instead.
I’m looking at you, Charlie Sheen.
While it’s cool, (ha, get it?) to see your favorite celebrity and friends shriek when icy water is dumped on them, the challenge itself has become so polluted, that it’s lost all meaning.
Originally, the challenge was dump water and donate $10 then pass it on, don’t get iced, and donate $100. Now, how many of ya’ll actually donated the $10?
The challenge was supposed to raise awareness, but how much actual awareness is there? Many people who participate don’t actually know what ALS stands for (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis by the way), or how horrific it actually is.
ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, is a disease that affects a person’s motor neurons, which control your ability to move voluntary. The motor neurons begin to die off and within just a few short weeks, muscles begin to deteriorate. The disease inhibits people from eating, walking and talking, but it doesn’t stop them from thinking or feeling.  Half of those diagnosed die within 14 months of being diagnosed. There is no known cure.
As Forbes put it, “it’s like Parkinson’s on super-steroids.”
No doubt, a worthy cause of such a drastic jump in funding.
But what happens when the ice melts?
Like bellbottoms and Flappy Bird, eventually, no one gives a damn.
Do we go back to the $1.9 million raised before the icy water, the Facebook likes and the thrill of a misguided  “good deed?” Possibly.
The challenge has gotten way out of control and it’s become just another way to fuel our narcissistic egos in the form of likes and public recognition.
If you’re one of the few that actually want to help the cause, the following may shock you.
Dumping ice water on yourself and posting it on the Internet in the name of charity doesn’t cure ALS any more than driving around with a yellow ribbon on your car brings our troops home.
Here’s my challenge to you, fellow eagles, no wasting water required. Donate, but donate and tell no one.

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  • M

    Mike CraigAug 20, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Great information in the article Kelli. I love the positive statistics that the increased awareness has caused like 453, 000 new donors and $20 million in donations over the past month. Instead of being critical of the challenge for the use of clean water and the short time the awareness may remain at a high level, why not offer alternatives or solutions to everyone to reduce the amount of clean water and ice used and how we could continue to raise awareness for this horrible disease? The fact that it was over 70 years ago when Lou Gehrig gave his famous speech…And there is no cure in sight is much more alarming to me.
    Very well written and I would love to see a follow up.
    Thanks again!!