An ice bucket alone won’t suffice

PAIGE LISTON | | Columnist

You’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge on the news. You’ve scrolled past it on many of your social media accounts. Your friends are all participating in it. You may have even participated in the challenge yourself. 

According to the ALS Association website, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a “progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.” The collapse of motor neurons in a patient’s brain eventually leads to his or her death.

There is no cure for this disease.

The purpose of the challenge is to promote public awareness of the disease while raising money to find a cure. 

The question: Is this popular trend doing more harm than good?

Scott Bridge, a communications professor at Butler, said he thinks the popularity of the ice bucket videos shows the power of the Internet, but the videos are more than just a fad.

“As long as ALS gets more exposure and, more importantly, more money, I don’t see the downside,” he said.

 In order to complete the challenge, participants may either donate money to the ALS Association or donate a smaller amount of money and dump a bucket of ice water over their heads.

After participants complete the challenge, they nominate three people to take the challenge next. The challenged people must complete the task in the next 24 hours. 

Millions of people, ranging from small children to celebrities, have all taken the challenge and posted videos of their cold-water experiences to their social media accounts.

However, the challenge is becoming a fad in which people would rather gain attention from their friends on social media by dumping cold water over their heads than donating to the cause.

Although this is a sad realization, social media is undeniably the way to attract people’s attention. The ice bucket challenge is certainly utilizing its power.

Levester Johnson, vice president of student affairs at Butler, said he thinks the challenge is a fabulous means to bringing attention to the ALS philanthropy, as well as other philanthropies. He has been challenged several times and has opted to donate to the cause.

“In particular, ALS is one of those causes that is not a higher-profile disease,” Johnson said. “Kudos to the association for coming up with such a creative idea to raise awareness.”

Jenny Applequist, a sophomore student at Butler, has participated in the challenge by posting a video of cold water being poured over her head. She saw the amount of attention the videos were bringing to ALS and she felt she needed to keep it going.

“I think some people don’t even realize what they’re doing the challenge for, and that’s wrong,” Applequist said. “But even if it is a social media fad, I think it is a good one, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.”

If the ice bucket challenge was not such a social media phenomenon, many people would never otherwise think about ALS. Admittedly, I would probably wouldn’t.

The challenge succeeds in its endeavor to raise awareness of the disease and to raise money for research and support.

The Association has received more than $53 million in donations compared to a little over $2 million it received last year during the same time period, according to the ALS Association website.

As a result of this challenge, there are over one million new donors to the Association. I am proud to say I am one of those new donors, even as a result of a social media craze.

Although it is becoming nearly impossible to scroll through social media without seeing 10 new Ice Bucket Challenge videos, the challenge is a smart idea for bringing people together for one cause.

With regards to Butler students taking up the challenge, Johnson said taking part in philanthropic events is what Butler students do.

“I think Butler students are bound to take up causes that pull at the strings of their heart,” Johnson said. “The challenge is a reminder to students during their time here to not forget why they chose Butler: to be service-orientated.” 

The challenge should be used as a gateway to learn more about the disease and to donate to find a cure. Don’t do the challenge to gain attention from your friends or followers. 

Do it to help those in need.