The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

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How It Started

ALS or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is sometimes called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that impedes and eventually kills motor neurons that reach from the brain to the spinal chord to all the muscle tissue in the body. When motor neurons start disappearing, nothing is available to send impulses to muscle fibers. By impairing the nerve cells in the brain and the spinal chord, ALS takes away the brain’s ability to initiate and control muscle movement. When ALS starts to hinder voluntary muscle control, victims start to become paralyzed. Recent years have started reeling in huge stores of scientific information. However, there still isn’t a cure for ALS. Pete Frates, formerly a baseball player for Boston College, was with ALS in 2012. On July 31, Frates decided to start a trend to combat ALS. With the help of a friend, he posted a video of him with the song “Ice Ice Baby” playing in the background. The premise was simply, the concept seemed trivial, but after a few weeks, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has blown up.

What It Is

When someone gets “nominated” to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, they have two options. If they choose to participate, they are supposed fill a bucket with some frigid, cold ice water and, within 24 hours of being nominated, take a video of them dumping the water on themselves. They then nominate three other friends to participate in the challenge and tell those three friends the rules. However, if they choose not to dump the ice water on themselves, they must donate $100 to an ALS charity.


Since the first video of Pete Frates went up on July 31, 1.2 million videos have been put up on Facebook and more than 15 million people have posted, commented, or liked a post about the challenge. Most of this has been located around Boston, the home of Pete Frates, but the challenge has managed to unfurl its arms and embrace the different corners of the nation. People from the East Coast, to the Mid West, and all the way to the West Coast are filling up buckets and engulfing themselves in the chilly ice water. People everywhere were touched by Frates’ story and decided that they were more than eager to help. The ALS movement raised more than $5.5 million since July 29, compared to $32,000 in the same period last year. If anything this challenge has definitely raised awareness of ALS and, hopefully, it will continue to thrive.

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