Is The Ice Bucket Challenge Helping ALS Research?

Check out the interwebz, bro. Let me give you a run down of the things I’ve seen in the last week:  Ebola. Gaza. Robin Williams. People dumping ice on themselves.

One of these things is not like the other. Okay, so we can claim this for any of the four, but let’s agree that we have more control over where we find ice. It’s great in our fridge, Canada, Russia, Antarctica, and water bottles. Unless you’re taking an ice bath, it’s not the greatest cuddling companion.


Over the last week there’s been an “Ice Bucket Challenge” pandemic. It’s in my Facebook newsfeed, my Twitter feed, it’s covered in articles in my reader, and it’s on the news. The Ice Bucket Challenge has gone viral with a tenacity that rivals Ebola. (Oooo… too much? Let’s talk about it.)

The ice-bucket showcase originated in the Boston area after friends of former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, diagnosed with ALS in 2012, have used it to raise awareness of the disease.  I’ve seen several of new friends in New England, including Tony Gentilcore and Henry Lau perform the stunt, and I thought, “Oh great, you guys, too?!”

I spotted an angry article from Jezebel in my newsfeed and shared it with friends, thinking, “This will incite an emotional response *from those that are excited to dump ice on themselves, and bring some awareness to those wise enough to ask, ‘Is this really making a difference?'”  (*This is Trolling 101.)

As it turns out, I got some good reactions:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 5

I didn’t agree.  I thought we were dumping water, and there weren’t big changes. I wanted Erik to be wrong so bad.  I consulted with Google Trends:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 5.01.14 PMShit.  It would appear that he’s right.  As much as interest in “Ice Bucket Challenge” has gone up, interest in “ALS” has gone up a bit more.  (If you’d like to check the numbers at the time you’re reading this, click HERE.)

Interesting.  The interwebz have brought a rather silly gimmick to viral critical mass, and it’s appearing everywhere.  Even more, it seems to be doing what was intended; raising awareness and causing an increase in donations.  That’s not bad at all!

The only problem is, ice is cold.  I don’t want to be cold. So instead, I got in the shower:

After I finished my shower, I got on  my computer, went to and clicked the Donate button.  A moment later, I donated $100 to the ALS Association.  It was quickly followed by an e-mail that read:

Dear Harold,

Thank you very much for you contribution to The ALS Association. Your thoughtful gift will help us accelerate progress in finding treatments and a cure for ALS through our global research program, provide vital care to people living through ALS through our network of ALS Certified Centers and clinics, and sustain our public policy efforts. Your gift will also help us support our network of local chapters across the U.S. that provides essential support programs and care services to people living with ALS and their families.

Thank you again for your generous gift. You have truly made a difference!


Barbara Newhouse
President and CEO
The ALS Association

My payment information was listed below that, and I’ve taken a screenshot as social proof:

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 5.20.28 PM

The original “Ice Bucket Challenge” was intended to have people dump water on themselves or donate.  I have a feeling that it’s working pretty damn well because people are dumping water and donating.  Perhaps pouring icy water over your head sounds like a good idea, but it’s not my version of a good time.  Instead, I’d like to follow Erik’s advice and project good into the world.

I hope you join me.

7 Replies to “Is The Ice Bucket Challenge Helping ALS Research?”

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