During the last couple of weeks, my Facebook news feed has been flooded with ALS ice bucket challenges — no pun intended. For those of you who do not know what this is, it involves a person being challenged to either 1) dump a bucket of ice water on their head or 2) donate money to the ALS Association.
If you are nominated, you must complete the challenge within 24 hours, and then nominate another person or persons to do the same.
My sweet friend Bryanna nominated me to do the challenge tonight. And while I knew all about the challenge itself, I realized I knew nothing about the actual disease and cause behind the videos.
So I did some research on the ALS Association website. And here are a few quick facts about ALS:
- ALS stands for “amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.” It is also known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
- It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that harms nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain. Basically, motor neurons in ALS eventually die, which means the brain becomes unable to control muscle movement.
- Some early symptoms of the disease are increasing muscle weakness, especially in the arms and legs, slurred speech, and trouble swallowing or breathing.
- About 5,600 Americans are diagnosed with ALS each year.
- The average life expectancy of an ALS patient ranges from 2 to 5 years once diagnosed.
- There is no cure to ALS yet, but riluzole, an FDA approved drug, can slow its progression and prolong a patient’s life.
From researching ALS and seeing the ice bucket challenge soar, I’ve learned a few things:
Firstly, people care. There are always people out there who care about a cause, whatever that cause may be. People have hearts and they like to use them. Never doubt someone’s ability or interest in lending a hand.
That being said, find a cause you are passionate about. It can be finding a cure to ALS or to childhood cancer, or educating children in third world countries, or feeding the homeless in your neighborhood.
It can be anything.
Secondly, people need to know. In order to find a solution, we must first be aware of the problem. I didn’t even know what ALS stood for before I started Googling. It is likely many participants were not educated about ALS pre-challenge.
That being said, do something. Spread the word, ask for others’ help, and see how a simple online video can turn into millions of dollars raised for your cause, millions of people joining your team to help you help others.
I think to some degree, we are all plagued with the fear of being insignificant, of being unable to make a difference.
The ALS ice bucket challenge is proof that a seemingly simple, creative idea, can spread like wildfire and make a massive impact. We just need to be passionate, purposeful, and prepared to act.
** If you would like to learn more about ALS, please click here.