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August 25, 2014

#IceBucketChallenge raises $62 million for ALS research


A social media craze has raised $62.5 million in just a few weeks for medical research on the disease ALS, which has no cure and few treatments.

The ice bucket challenge began with Peter Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012. Frates challenged people to donate money to ALS research or video themselves getting dunked in ice water and post the video on social media. Participants then challenged others to do the same.

ALS is a disease that destroys nerve cells located in the brain and spinal cord. Victims have less and less control over their muscles and nerves and generally die within three to five years.

The trend took off, with participants filling social media with videos tagged with #IceBucketChallenge and sending millions of donations to the ALS Association.

The ALS Association, which has 38 chapters across the country, is searching for an ALS cure as well as effective treatments, according to Barbara Newhouse, its president and CEO. Donations from the challenge will go to research and care for ALS patients, she added.

The organization supports ALS-certified clinics that are partnered with large research institutions where patients can meet with neurologists, physical therapists and other care givers.

“We will be doing a lot on the research front, but we will also be recognizing that we have got people who have needs every day,” she said.

The ALS Association promoted the challenge to its email list on August 6, but Newhouse said she never could have predicted how popular it would become.

“I don’t think anybody could have predicted what happened with this,” she said. “It’s a new age with social networking.”

Warm up questions
  1. Have you heard about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?
  2. Do you know anyone who has taken the Ice Bucket Challenge? Why did they do it?
  3. What does it mean when something goes “viral” on the internet?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Do you think people who did the Ice Bucket Challenge know more about ALS then they did before?  Please explain.  Does awareness matter if the ALS Association gets a lot of money anyway?
  2. The national ALS  Association is a charitable organization that spends its money on the following four areas: research, advocacy, patient and community services, and public education and awareness. Is any category more important than others? Explain your answer. Also, why is it important to know how a charitable organization is spending donated money?
  3. What would happen if Facebook and Twitter suddenly shut down? Would something like the Ice Bucket Challenge be possible?
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