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Have you taken the Ice Bucket Challenge?


Normally dumping a bucket of ice water on your head is not something people do voluntarily. But thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge that’s exactly what’s happening all across the country to help raise awareness and money to assist in the fight against ALS.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS and Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to the loss of voluntary muscle control, total paralysis and death.

Every 90 minutes someone is diagnosed with ALS, and currently there are more than 30,000 Americans living with ALS, and an estimated 450,000 people who are living with the disease worldwide. ALS is a fatal disease, with more than 75% patients succumbing to respiratory failure. The average rate of survival is often estimated at 30 months after symptom onset, but progression varies, and some patients have survived 10 years or longer.

Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of the diagnosis. Unfortunately there is currently no effective therapeutic approved for use by the FDA to stop the disease’s progression or prevent onset.

To help spread awareness about the disease former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012, started the Ice Bucket Challenge in Massachusetts. Frates, who can no longer speak due to ALS, challenged family and friends in a video he posted to social media to dump a bucket of ice over their heads within 24 hours. If the challenge is not accepted within the 24 hours the individual who is challenged is asked to donate to ALS research or to the charity of their choice.

Aside from helping people experience the chilling thrill of dumping a bucket of ice over their heads while on video, the Ice Bucket Challenge has swept the nation and brought much needed awareness (and donations) to the fight against ALS. The brilliant thing about the challenge is that not only is it fun, but it gets people involved in a very personal way and makes a lasting connection with a cause that many may not have ever heard of before. After all, wouldn’t you remember why you dumped a bucket of ice over your head for all the world to see?

Some naysayers have taken to social media to make the argument that everyone should stop dumping buckets of ice over their head and start writing checks. I understand the argument, but given the massive increase in donations it seems like most people are doing both. Between July 29, 2014 to August 13, 2014 the ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received $4 million in donations compared to $1.2 million during the same time period last year and it’s all thanks to Ice Bucket Challenge. So I guess the only question that remains is, “Are you up for the challenge?”

For more information about ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge visit the ALSA website, www.alsa.org.

By Eric J. Einhart – Guest Blogger

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