The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has soaked the nation from head to toe in water that is too cold to drink.
The idea is simple-ish, but instead of delving into all the details, here are the broad brush strokes. It basically involves pouring a bucket of ice water over your head, making a donation to ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — and challenging others to do the same.
Oh yeah, and this is a detail that is near and dear to my television producer’s heart, you must document this by video.
Actors, celebrities and athletes have jumped onto the bandwagon and the fundraising has gone viral.
Some cynics would have you believe it’s a bad thing. Just donate and forget the hullaballo, they say. It’s a serious disease and a silly challenge. People are just hoping for their 15 seconds of fame … and on… and on… and ooooonnnnnnn.
There is a morsel of truth in all criticism.
There are so many worthy causes in the world, it is a shame that we don’t support them all, but the fact that we can’t support them all doesn’t mean we should support none.
Why is ALS so special that late-night TV is filled with comedians and celebrities joining together to drench themselves?
I don't know the answer. I don't know why we support Breast Cancer Awareness over Autism Speaks, or malaria nets in Africa over child hunger in Utah? I do know that marketing plays a part and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If someone thinks of a better way to do something, celebrate it, don't begrudge it.
I write this to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge cynics — few as they may be.
A charity’s success is not a zero-sum game. Just because one organization succeeds, doesn’t mean that others must fail.
As of Sunday, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $13 million in donations, a 700 percent increase from last year.
Perhaps equally as important, is the awareness that has spread. I’m a sports guy, so I know about Lou Gehrig’s disease, but my four children and wife didn’t. The #ALSIceBucketChallenge gave me an opportunity to teach my family about this disease and why we need to find a cure.
We shot a video — as all good television producers do — and dumped icy water on each other. It was a fun experience — even for my crybaby 4-year-old — that my children will never forget, partly because it will live forever on YouTube.
I have a special interest in ALS. It’s a disease that affects the nerves that control your muscles. It is aggressive and 100 percent fatal — usually within three years. It is also more prevalent in varsity-level athletes, which I was and my children will likely become.
I grew up bashing helmets and taking beanballs to my temple. Twenty-five years later, I’m watching my son get similarly smashed and plunked. My crystal ball sees many more in his future.
Am I concerned that this may come back to haunt us in later life? Yes.
Do I ever think about it? Rarely.
When do I think about it? Ice Bucket Challenge.
Don’t get caught up in how people are doing this challenge wrong, celebrate how they are getting this right.