This summer, millions of people around the world poured buckets of ice-cold water on themselves for one of the most recent and effective fundraising phenomenons: the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. On a given day, anyone could scroll through a Facebook or Twitter feed to see it dominated by friends, families, celebrities, sports teams, and organizations taking the challenge and donating to ALS research. Through unprecedented amounts of participants in the challenge, millions of dollars have been donated to the ALS Association, the main organization for ALS research and treatments. However, pushing past the initial novelty of the challenge, an important question may come up while looking through these fun and entertaining videos: What’s the deal with ALS?
According to the ALS Association, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a debilitating neurodegenerative disease affecting the brain and spinal cord at the cellular level. The brain loses the ability to control muscle movement, which eventually leads to paralysis and death. ALS causes life expectancy in a patient to dwindle down to three to five years after diagnosis. The disease usually strikes individuals between the ages of 40 and 70, but some cases have been found to be in people in their twenties and thirties. The most famous example of a diagnosis earlier in life is Lou Gehrig, who played for the New York Yankees for sixteen years and who was the equivalent of today’s Derek Jeter. Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS when he was 36, and died a year later.
A total of $115 million dollars has been donated to the ALS Association, not to mention millions more people being aware of the disease and how they can help find a cure. According to the Oct. 2 press release by the Association, “…an initial expenditure of $21.7 million [will be given] in funding to support six programs and initiatives to expedite the search for treatments and a cure for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),” with $18.5 million of that sum going directly to ALS research.
Not only has the challenge been instrumental in raising a substantial amount of money to help fund looking for a cure for ALS, but people may also be inspired to raise awareness in a similarly creative way for research on other diseases or medical complications. The Ice Bucket Challenge has found an effective way to “strike out” ALS, and similar awareness ideas will hopefully lead to eliminating other serious diseases from our world.
Drum Majors seniors Michael Larmann, Jamie Bogue, junior Eli Uttley-Rosado, and marching band director Tom Green participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge during the last day of band camp with the help of junior and senior squad leaders. Video provided by Jamie Bogue.
The Boy’s Cross Country team, nominated by the Girl’s Volleyball team, participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with the help of the Girl’s Cross Country team. Video provided by Aaron Norcia.
Jamie Bogue, Editor-in-Chief
Senior Jamie Bogue is the Editor-in-Chief for the 2014-2015 Colonel. She is a drum major for marching band, sings in Ledyard Carolers, Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Ledyard’s Horizons Yearbook, and is attending Liberty University next fall.