Unless you’ve managed to be living under a rock the past several weeks, you’ve heard about or taken part in the Ice Bucket Challenge. For a brief moment in time all of social media as well as the news networks were a buzz with this viral campaign giant. If you somehow missed it, take this as me challenging you to take part. Bring awareness to something that you’re passionate about. Make a donation to charity.
In July and August of 2014 one could easily find themselves immersed not only in ice water, but also in watching video after video of people taking part the Ice Bucket Challenge. Most famously, the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, aka. Lou Gehrig’s disease) Association’s Ice Bucket Challenge was on everyone’s lips and captured on so many camera phones. The premise was simple, when challenged you have 24 hours to film yourself dumping a bucket of ice water (preferably with ice cubes) over your head and daring someone else to do the same all in the name of charity. You would then post it on the social network of your choice. The caveat being that if you didn’t comply you had to make a monetary donation to charity or you could accept the challenge and make a donation while circumventing the water dousing altogether.
As fun and crazy as it may seem, and for as many people who love the challenge, it also has its critics. These naysayers cite that the activity doesn’t call enough attention to the charity it’s used to promote and that it is simply a waste of water. Either way, this viral campaign has helped raise over $110.5 million dollars for the ALS. I see both sides of the discussion on how a viral campaign both helps and hinders the issue you’re trying to promote. Sure, there were plenty of kids and even adults who took part in the challenge solely for the fun of dumping a bucket of water on themselves. Many had no clue what the true purpose of doing so was. However, there are many others who took the chance to allow the spirit of the challenge to guide them in making a much-needed donation to charity.
I was challenged by my stepdaughter. I had fully intended to join in on the fun as well as make a donation to charity. Needless to say, I’ve not yet done either. Until now, by writing this article. What I have done is to consider what the challenge means to me. Sure, it’s about awareness, but I think that the spirit of the challenge is in bringing attention not just to any one charitable organization. For me, each time I watched an Ice Bucket Challenge video it reminded me of my grand-aunt/godmother whom passed away almost a decade ago. There is still not one day that goes by that I don’t think of her. She passed away as a result of tongue cancer. I keep her memory alive by doing simple things. I of course think of her daily, but I also find ways to donate to the American Cancer Society (ACS). For example, as a frequent Amazon.com shopper I take advantage of the smile.amazon.com page, Amazon Smile. In this case AmazonSmile makes a donation equal to 0.5% of the purchase price on eligible items to the charity of your choosing. It may not seem like a lot but incrementally, it matters. Plus, each time I make a purchase, I think of her and how she influenced my life and the lives of so many others.
Even if you don’t take part in the challenge or if you choose to, do so with an open and humble heart. Support a cause that you have an indelible connection with. There are so many charities and other non-profits that are out there that could use your help. No matter how big or small that help may seem to you, it can mean so much more to the ones that are most in need. And it doesn’t have to mean money, it could be in you giving a little bit of your time. Thus, I challenge you to take action and find some way to support the charity of your choice. No ice bucket needed.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 9/10/14 issue of The Union-Recorder.