Unless you have been living under a rock, or bucket for that matter, you have heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—a challenge started by Pat Quinn and Pete Frates in order to raise awareness for Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS), something that they both suffer from. Launching in the summer of 2014, this challenge took the world by storm.
Since the challenge began, more than 17 million people have uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook, with more than 440 million views, worldwide. Not only did the 2014 challenge raise awareness of this disease, but it also raised $115 million for the ALS Association (ALSA).
Because the challenge was so successful last summer, Pat Quinn and Pete Frates decided to re-launch the campaign just a few days ago, with the help of the Boston Red Sox.
The rebirth of the challenge has also led to the creation of the hashtag “EveryAugustUntilACure”.
The attention that ALS has received in the year since this challenge began is unbelievable, and the attention and support that Pete Frates has received is heartwarming. He has been featured on ESPN, been honored at Boston College sporting events, and many Boston professional sporting events as well. A packed Gillette Stadium sang him Happy Birthday and he signed a contract with the Red Sox before their home opener—a dream come true for any Boston boy.
The core of this attention is due to the courage he has displayed since his diagnosis and his determination to find a cure for this horrific disease. He has become the face of this movement and an inspiration to many.
The inaugural movement garnered so much attention and momentum that it leaves us to question if those initial efforts can be matched. There was just something about this challenge, the originality, the fun, the unfamiliarity, that took the Internet by storm. Now that it’s a year old, how do you match the accomplishments of last summer?
Think about it. Think about the celebrities and athletes who got on board and participated in the challenge: Taylor Swift, Justin Timberlake, Aaron Rogers, Tina Fey, Rihanna, Derek Jeter, Steven Spielberg… the list goes on and on.
And think about how some people carried out the challenge: Marian Gaborik used a Zamboni, Zac Brown Band used a fire truck to soak themselves, Paul Bissonnette stood on top of a mountain in a speedo as ice water was dumped on him from a helicopter and—one of my personal favorites—John Krasinski surprised his wife, Emily Blunt, with the challenge as she carried groceries in to the house.
The question here is: How do we top it? How do we top the $115 million raised for the ALSA? How do we do it bigger and find more absurd ways to pour ice water all over ourselves?
We must keep on fighting and supporting, keep challenging our friends, families, teammates, bosses, and colleagues. To top last year's efforts we have to go bigger, challenge more people, give more to the cause, and even find better and more creative ways to dump a bucket of water on our heads. However, we will never truly win until a cure is found.
Of course, this challenge has already grown into something more. Last summer's challenge led to other events that brought attention to finding a cure for ALS and raised money to further contribute to the ALSA's research. In December, the Frates family hosted the Plunge 4 Pete in Gloucester, where over 500 people hurled themselves into the wintery waters of Good Harbor Beach for the cause; and the team with the highest fundraising total contributed over $11,000 to the cause.
Just last month, Pat Mullane and Andrew Orpik’s first annual Comm Ave Charity Classic was played, with alumni from BC and BU getting back on the ice at BU’s Walter Brown Arena. Over 3,000 people showed up to the match to show their support for Frates and many others suffering from ALS. The event raised $55,000 for Compassionate Care ALS.
The momentum of the challenge has slowed a little bit since last summer, but the awareness of ALS and its impending cure have remained on the forefront because of these events.
The resurgence of the Ice Bucket Challenge will hopefully bring even more attention to the cause and bring us one step closer to the cure, but only if we accept the challenge once again.
I, for one, will be waiting for my nomination to take on round two of the Ice Bucket Challenge, and will be ready to take the challenge #EveryAugustUntilACure.
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