I was challenged to do the ALS #IceBucketChallenge by a good friend of mine last night. I’m still well within the 24 hour window and trying to decide if I will dump ice water on my head or not. Despite my hesitancy to dump freezing cold water on my head I did not hesitate at all to donate to the ALS Association and here is why. Twelve years ago when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter my sister started having issues with her vision and some trouble with her legs. During this time she was run through a battery of tests trying to figure out what might be wrong with her. Some of the possible issues and diseases that were thrown around were Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (Mad Cow Disease), Toxoplasmosis, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). This was a scary time for our family and the testing took what seemed like eons but lasted only a few months until they finally came to the conclusion that she had MS.
When I found out my sister had MS I actually breathed a sigh of relief. Can you believe that? I actually thought to myself “Well at least it’s just MS.” because in the face of my sister having ALS, MS was a a fantastic diagnosis. People with MS have normal or near normal life expectancies in contrast the average life expectancy of a person with ALS is between two to five years from the time they are diagnosed with the disease. It is possible but unlikely for someone with MS to become fully paralyzed, debilitated yes, but during the later stages of the disease people with ALS can become totally paralyzed with their minds still being sharp and alert.
I donated to the ALS Association for the same reasons that I donate to the MS Society. To help fund research to find a cure for people like my sister with chronic debilitating diseases. Without our help and funding research slows and the path to a cure becomes unclear. I know that people are being dismissive of the #IceBucketChallenge.
I have been seeing angry and irritated posts on social media about the waste of water or the cluttering of their news feed with #IceBucketChallenge videos but the truth of the matter is that in spite of them it’s working. The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $22.9 million dollars for the ALS Association when during the same time period last year the ALS Association only raised $1.9 million. Additionally they have gained over 450,000 new donors. My point is the challenge is working so whether you are spreading the word by dumping ice water on your head, filming it and challenging others or donating directly to the ALS Association please, keep it up!