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Questioning the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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Imagine Patrick Stewart sitting at a desk.

 

He writes up a check for an unseen amount, and then sets the check aside. He draws towards him a silver bucket, frosted on the outside. He pulls over a glass filled with what one might assume is some type of liquor.

 

He takes three ice cubes from the bucket and places them into the glass as elegantly as Patrick Stewart does anything in life. He then takes a long drink from the glass, sets it down with a look of satisfaction upon his face and gives the camera a little nod. The caption reads that Patrick Stewart has done the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

 

Actually, you don’t have to imagine this. If you search YouTube, you’ll find the video just as I’ve described it for you here. It’s Patrick Stewart’s way of doing what has become the newest trending meme on Facebook and the Internet.

 

While the meme has died down a bit, it’s still going as friends of friends tag each other on Facebook, goading them on to do this Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for ALS.

 

If you’re like me, you had no idea what ALS stood for until this challenge started to pop up on your Facebook feed, let alone what sort of effects it inflicted on its sufferers.

 

ALS: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a neurodegenerative disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the popular baseball player whose career it ended back in 1939.

 

A little digging on the ALS Association’s website reveals that they’ve committed $99 million to fund research projects to help find a cure, and this past August they gave out $3.5 million in research grants.

 

According to the website, they’ve already raised an extraordinary $109.1 million this year through the Ice Bucket Challenge alone.

 

While I applaud them for using the Internet to their advantage, I’m not one to jump onto this fundraising bandwagon. I have several reasons – and I’ll drop two thoughts down on paper.

 

Firstly, given that they just dispensed over $3.5 million in research funding this August, they really don’t need a massive fundraising campaign right now.

 

Extra money is always nice, and according to their website they have sponsored some very good neurological research so far, so I would be inclined to make a small donation.

 

Ultimately, though, I would rather donate the bulk of my money to something like heart disease research, the biggest killer of Americans, than to ALS, which affects considerably fewer people.

 

Secondly, people in Africa are currently dying of the Ebola virus in hordes. The lack of fresh water is both a major issue in general and a big reason behind the outbreak. It seems a bit crass that we are wasting it by dumping it on our heads because someone challenged us to do so.

 

The World Health Organization has said it needs $500 million, minimum, to help stop the spread of the Ebola virus worldwide and in Africa. Yet my guess is if they don’t start a trendy viral meme to raise that money, the world’s governments aren’t exactly going to fork it over.

 

While I give a huge round of applause to the ALS Foundation for using the Internet to their advantage, I’d rather turn my money and attention elsewhere for something more pressing.

 

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