By now you have played and replayed the videos of friends, family, and celebrities pouring buckets of ice water over their heads to honor the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The past few weeks have been surreal as the entire world has taken a moment to simultaneously look up and take notice. Somewhat surprisingly, I vividly remember the first time back in high school that I learned about Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Setting down a sheet of paper in front of me, my teacher explained our upcoming assignment, “We are going to be having presentations over the next couple of weeks on neurodegenerative diseases. Please sign up for one of the presentation topics”. Looking down at the list, I suspended my pencil in mid-air, unfamiliar with any of the long and complicated sounding disease names. A hopelessly die hard baseball/Red Sox fan, my eye finally caught the name of Lou Gherig nestled between parentheses after the word Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I quickly scribbled my name down next to ALS and passed the sheet along.
A few weeks later, after diligent research, I walked to the front of my class with an over sized poster board scattered with pictures of Lou Gherig and diagrams of nerve cells. Glancing around the class room, I posed a question to my peers before starting my presentation.
“How many of you have ever heard of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS, or Lou Gherig’s disease? Please raise your hand.”
The room was silent.
What do you think the response would be if I asked the same question to a class of high school students today?
The challenge has been nothing short of inspiring, and as a strong believer in social media, I immediately embraced the icey water when it came my turn, recognizing how huge of an impact a viral video could have on fund raising for ALS. Despite my news feed being filled with videos of people shivering and laughing, the occasional cynic would emerge here and there. People scorned those participating, preaching that pouring a bucket of ice on your head isn't really doing anything.
Statuses like these made my blood boil, although I understood the root of their cynicism. It is true that ALS doesn’t recognize courage, willpower, good intentions, or people dumping ice over their heads, but how could they fail to see the impact this challenge was having? I couldn’t put into words how to explain the point that some people were so clearly missing, until I watched this video.
The moral can best be summed up in a quote from Pete Frates himself.
"At the end of the day, I want to be the cliché game-changer. I want to be the guy who shifts everyone's thinking and shifts where the funds are going. Selfishly, I want to give myself a chance but also give a lot of other people opportunity as well."
The challenge has reached far beyond its humble roots, and touched the lives of millions around the world including celebrities and billionaires like Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. The Ice Bucket Challenge has reached a total of $88.5 millioin fund raised—a number compared to 2.6 million during the same time period last year according to the ALS Association. (When I wrote the first draft of this blog last week 31.5 million had been raised so far. Crunch those numbers). You can’t argue with that (ice) cold hard fact.
After being nominated myself, it came time to decide who I was going to nominate for an icey bath. Along with nominating a few of my friends, I decided to nominate my beloved coworkers at Mainspring. Check out Mainspring's ice bucket challenge with Bill Nussdorfer, Hank Goddard, myself, Will Gibson, and Troy Kenyon. (Plus some bonus footage from Shannon Thibault and Adam Boynton). Mainspring nominated our clients Clevland Clinic Abu Dhabi, Florida Hospital, SUNY Upstate, Ceadars Sinai, ISS Solutions. Enjoy and don't forget to donate to an amazing cause :)
Check out ISS Solutions' response from CEO Peter Brooks: