If you’ve heard of the Internet before, then you’ve probably heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge. All of the cool kids and celebrities on Facebook are doing it. While social pressure to contribute to a cause can be a wonderful thing, there’s always more to the story. Now experts claim that the millions of dollars raised for ALS may not be enough.
The #icebucketchallenge is a trending social media campaign created by The ALS Association to raise awareness and donations for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease. The Ice Bucket Challenge has been a home-run viral hit, with a groundswell of supporters that include Ben Affleck and former President George W. Bush.
Just like it sounds, the Ice Bucket Challenge requires the participant to film and post a video of a bucket of ice water being dumped on their head via social media. Once the epically chilling video is complete, the participant nominates new challengers by tagging them in the post. They have 24 hours to film their own challenge video or donate to the cause. In most cases, participants happily do both.
At face value, this viral campaign seems ingenious. It has raised $42 million and counting for ALS. This is a marked increase from the $2 million raised last year. So what is The ALS Association going to do with this cold, hard cash? The money will go to medical research, but experts believe that social media donations may not be enough.
According to NBC News, “Anyone who thinks that money is going to cure ALS is just dreaming.” This statement is utterly depressing if you have been one of the many people to publicly participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge with the hopes of making a change.
Yes, The ALS Association plans to donate millions to research. Yet President and CEO of The ALS Association Barbara Neuhaus states, “These flash-in-the pan things that will go away after a few months will not help ALS in the long run.”
Don’t demand your money back just yet. Your contributions and viral videos do matter — they just aren’t enough to find an immediate ALS cure. Compared to the billions spent on medical research by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), viral funds are sadly just a “drop in the bucket.”
The good news is that astounding ALS awareness has been raised. You can still support ALS medical research by contacting your Congressman and petitioning to put a stop to NIH budget cuts. But before you post a cute viral video or pledge for a cause, it’s important to know the facts.
The Ice Bucket Challenge won’t cure ALS. It will raise public interest in medical research, for ALS and other serious conditions. Still, those suffering from the condition seem to be satisfied with the awareness the challenge has generated.