Tori Williams is a senior at College of Charleston majoring in Communication and minoring in International Studies and Dance. She is currently the editor-in-chief of Her Campus College of Charleston, an online magazine for college women, as well as an editorial intern with Charleston magazine. Tori spends her days dancing with Dance FX's adult performance company and through CofC. This West Virginia native hopes to find a career that allows her to combine her two passions of writing and dancing in the Lowcountry.
If you’re on any form of social media, you’ve seen dozens of people dumping ice water on their head as a part of the ALS ice bucket challenge. This challenge is meant to raise awareness for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease- a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, and from then on throughout the rest of the body. From what I’ve seen, it’s a terrible, painful, slow disease that truly takes a toll on individuals who experience it, both physically and emotionally. I know this because I sadly watched a good family friend suffer from ALS until it eventually took his life.
The ice bucket challenge is being actively encouraged by the ALS Association, and consists of someone being nominated by another who has previously been challenged. The individual nominated has 24 hours to either dump a bucket of ice water on their head, or donate to the ALS Association. Many people have been choosing to do both. Wow, what a great way to spread awareness, one would think. Social media has become a huge platform for promoting and spreading the word about all sorts of important causes.
So, I hope many of you can understand why I’m a little confused about the negative flak the ALS ice bucket challenge has been receiving via different media outlets. For example, an article in the Huffington Post titled “#IceBucketChallenge, Why You’re Not Really Helping” calls the efforts to promote awareness “slacktivism,” because rather than donating people are posting videos to raise awareness, which according to the article makes them feel like they’ve done their part. Or this article from Slate, which states individuals are spending money on ice for the challenge that could just as easily be donated.
Here’s the thing: First of all, ice is a pretty common household item, which is more than often accessible by clicking a button on your fridge. Secondly, although uploading a video may seem insignificant to some, doesn’t every little thing done to spread awareness help to achieve a greater goal?
Apparently, it does.
On August 16, the ALS Association posted an article titled “Ice Bucket Donations Surpass $10 Million to the ALS Association." The ALS Association has received $11.4 million in donations compared to $1.7 million during the same time period just last year. Talk about a greater goal. These donations have not only come from existing donors, but also the 220,255 new donors to the association.
Any form of promotion for a cause such as ALS, no matter how big or small, goes towards something big. Something wonderful. Something worthwhile. The ice bucket challenge is meant to heighten awareness of the never-ending list of causes that deserve attention. It has become a huge phenomenon. We should be excited that this disease is being recognized by so many, and that they are willing to take the time to show their support.
We live in a world of technology. This gives us the advantage to post all we want, share, and spread the word with the click of a button. Rather than criticizing people for doing so, shouldn’t we applaud them for their efforts? These efforts lead to something much bigger than we can imagine. These efforts instill knowledge and create awareness of serious issues that so many are coping with today. These efforts,although sometimes small, aid in raising funds that go on to help save lives.
Meet the man who started it all here.
Front graphic: Mellow Mushroom Charleston takes the challenge.