ALS Ice Bucket Challenge HSB 4U | Critique

The Ice Bucket Challenge was a campaign that was not actually started by the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association (ALSA).

Rinaldi says that it began “with one name”: Pete Frates. A former Boston College baseball player, Frates was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. On July 31 of this year, he challenged some friends and celebrities (including NFL quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan) to take the ice bucket challenge to “strike out ALS.” - Josh Levin, Slate

Before this, the challenge was not tied to any particular charity, and hadn't gone mainstream. Though it wasn't a planned campaign, as it gained popularity, it was adopted by the ALSA.

In a nutshell, the challenge is very simple: either donate $100 (or however much you can afford) to the ALSA, or pour a bucket of ice water over your head, record it, share it on a social media platform of your choice, and nominate two other people to do one of the two within 24 hours. The goal therefore was equally simple: to raise donations and awareness.

Prior to the viral explosion of the challenge, ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease) was not well known.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. - ALSA

It is a fairly rare disease, and affects approximately 20,000 people worldwide annually. The disease is very rapid in its progression, as shown below.

Shay Rishoni is a 48 year-old dad of two boys and was an Ironman triathlete before being diagnosed with ALS in August 2011. Within three months he saw his ability to use his arms weaken considerably while no other body parts were affected. Less than two years later he was completely paralyzed and breathing with a ventilator. - Patients Like Me

The ice bucket challenge was fun and open to anyone and everyone, which is a big reason as to why it did so well!

As always with these kinds of challenges, there were a few which really stood out from the rest, like the epic take by Paul Bissonnette shown above.

Some criticism did arise however. Some groups found the waste of water offensive, and some view the over the top videos to be money wasters. A common stream of thought in regards to the above was 'why did he hire a helecopter if he could have just donated the money directly to the ALSA?'. That said, this particular instance went viral, raised a massive amount of awareness, the helicopter pilot was a friend of Paul's, and he donated $1000 to the charity on top of that.

Other people found the challenge to be an ineffective way of raising funds and awareness, as many people were doing the challenge blindly without any thought to the cause. Again, this doesn't matter - the challenge still raised a massive amount of awareness and money as touched upon further down, and it became so well known that the videos didn't always need to refer to ALS to be associated with it.

No institutions were changed by the campaign, but a huge difference in terms of ALS awareness and donations came about!

A few of the well known celebrities that brought attention to the disease are above. Lou Gehrig is where ALS got its other namesake.

Technology was the campaign's medium and method of transmission, and suited it very well. Social media and the widespread ability to record video played a huge part in the challenge. This made it fun to do, easy to do, social (which adds accountability, peer pressure, and the familiarity and social concepts to the mix) and accessible. Technology was also used to accept donations online.

If I was directly involved (in a greater capacity than me throwing a bucket of water on my dad, above), I don't think I would change anything about the campaign! It was wildly successful, raised over 115 million dollars, and brought about a few scientific breakthroughs. Further, with over 117 million videos tied to the challenge on YouTube, ALS went from a virtually unheard of word to a household name.

The challenge was undertaken by many celebrities and companies. A few examples include: Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg (both featured above), Will Smith, The Rock, Vin Diesel, Oprah, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, RDJ, Chris Pratt, Jimmy Kimmel, Bon Jovi, Josh Hutcherson, and so on!

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Jason Haywood
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