The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge


Those who complete the challenge are only asked to donate $10 to ALS, instead of the $100 that those who don’t complete it are asked. 

The four words, “I was nominated by…” have taken the social media world by storm. Thousands of people have taken the time to pour buckets of ice-cold water on their heads and post the proof online, all to raise awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

But it doesn’t stop there; millions of dollars have been donated to the ALS Association, an organization dedicated solely to ALS research.

The disease

What exactly is the disease that inspires the money, the ice, and the people?

ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, targets nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord called motor neurons. As time goes on, the motor neurons start to degenerate and die off, shutting down muscle movement. As a result, ALS patients slowly become paralyzed and die.

According to, ALS affects 5,600 people in the U.S. each year – there are currently 30,000 patients in the U.S.

Most patients are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70, but some can be diagnosed in their 20s and 30s. Although recent studies have been done, there are no exact risk factors linked to the diagnosis of ALS; however, some studies have shown that genetics may play a role. After being diagnosed, half of the patients typically only have three to four years left to live.

With the cloudiness surrounding ALS, and the relatively small amount of people diagnosed each year, some feel that medical companies do not pay enough attention to the importance of the disease.

“There isn’t much incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest the billions of dollars it takes to develop a drug because I’m not profitable, I’m not worth saving,” said ALS patient Anthony Carbajal, 25.

The challenge

Thanks to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the ALS Association is reporting that it has raised over $5.5 million in the last month, and $88.7 million since 2013. All of this goes toward researching a cure for the disease.  

The challenge is simple. One person states his or her name, nominator and his or her own chosen nominees into a video camera before being drenched in an icy bath. Those nominated typically have 24 hours to follow suit, or must donate $100 to the cause. Being a hot trend within the social media world, many people already know what the challenge is about.

It has also caught the attention of some of the bigger names in society. Celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon, Steven Spielberg and many others have responded to the challenge by having ice water dumped onto themselves and donating hundreds and thousands of dollars in the process.

“I promise your newsfeed will go back to cat videos and ‘Let It Go’ covers,” Carbajal said. “But right now, the ALS community has the main spotlight, and for once in my entire life, I’ve seen it in the forefront.”

Amy Phillips, a student who lost her father to ALS, said she has taken some comfort in the awareness that the new trend is bringing.

“For the rest of my life, when people talk about ALS, I will have to say, ‘You know, the ice bucket disease,’” she said.

“Please, everybody, please keep pouring buckets of ice over your heads. Please keep donating money. Please keep talking about this.”