Charity Begins by Going Viral?

Why I’m not taking part in the ALS #icebucket challenge and why – SHOCK HORROR – I’m might not even be donating to ALS charities.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you will be aware of the most recent viral video challenge; the ice bucket challenge for ALS. Unlike the neck nominations which, let’s be honest were just plain retarded, the ice bucket challenge was designed to do some good. And, like the no make-up selfies, once people got the hang of it, it really has. However, in some cases it has become a point of contention.

A week ago I was having dinner with a friend and discussing the ice bucket challenges. We’d both seen videos, but neither of us had the first clue about ALS. A quick Google and we learnt it was sometimes also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, something I had heard of, although I still couldn’t actually tell you what it was. A little bit more research and I can now tell you it is also referred to as motor neurone disease and is characterised by muscle spasticity, rapidly progressive weakness due to muscle atrophy, and difficulty in speaking (dysarthria), swallowing (dysphagia), and breathing (dyspnoea). I now also know that ALS is the most common of the five motor neuron diseases. The letters AL and S stand for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. I could go on, with the help of a number of internet sources, but I think this video explains everything you need to know;

Researching the phenomenon further, I discovered the ice bucket challenge has existed under several different guises, although, the origin is unclear. According to Wiki, the “Cold Water Challenge” became popular, predominantly, in northern United States. You either donated money, usually to cancer research, or you jumped in cold water. Around May this year, in Salem, Indiana, a variation involved dousing participants and then donating to charity, I’m not entirely clear if the dousers or the dousees (or both) donated. This was filmed so that it could be shared online. After that the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation got involved using the “Cold Water Challenge” to raise funds. This was seen as an unsanctioned spin off of the polar plunge, which is widely used by the Special Olympics as a fundraiser.

So when did the “Cold Water Challenge” become the #icebucketchallenge? Apparently, on June 30, 2014, when personalities of the program Morning Drive, performed a live, on-air Ice Bucket Challenge. After that, television anchor Matt Lauer did the Ice Bucket Challenge on July 15, 2014 on NBC’s The Today Show at Greg Norman’s challenge. Very soon it went viral. Celebrities nominated other celebrities, computing heavyweights attempted to outthink each other; it got bigger and better and more imaginative and, at times emotional.

Over the past two days I noticed an awful lot of my friends getting involved and figured it was eventually going to be my turn. I also noticed a variation in the charities being donated to. Not everyone is donating to ALS, some people aren’t even mentioning donating and, I suspect, are likely getting involved just so they can nominate others and share the pain. A number of people are suggesting you text ICE to 70550 which isn’t anything to do with ALS, as I assumed, but Macmillan Cancer Support. This has apparently caused quite a bit of upset, with accusations being levelled at Macmillan, who have received enough to pay for more than a few nurses. And the competition begins.

I finally received my nomination today. I’d been so certain I would, I’d even considered how I might go about it, until I realized I was essentially offended by the concept. I have chosen to donate to charities, here and there, over the years and expect I will continue to do so, for the foreseeable. I remember times when I had to make serious cuts to my outgoings and the thought of stopping whatever charitable donations I was making at the time, was more upsetting to me than anything else. When people started doing the no makeup selfies, I found it gross to see them posting the actual confirmation of their donations. For me charity is a private thing. You choose when to donate, who to donate to and how much to donate. Even when sponsoring someone I prefer telling them privately what I want to give rather than having everyone know.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not condemning anyone for taking part. Hell, do whatever you like in the name of charity, climb a mountain, run a race, go on a fast or sponsor someone who is. Share ideas with your friends, hassle them for donations and sponsorships BUT don’t expect them to get involved. Similarly don’t get involved because you feel you should, do it because you choose, because you believe in a cause. Charity is not peer pressure or a pissing contest; at least I’m pretty sure it shouldn’t be.

And so I will not be doing the ice bucket challenge. I may donate to the charity, I may not. If I do nobody will know. Because that is the way I believe it should be.

Incidentally, if I did, it would probably be similar to this;


The ALS Association –

Ice Bucket challenge on Wiki –

Independent article on Macmillan’s hijacking of the challenge –

And finally;






  1. Very eloquently put my dear, and very much mirroring my own feelings. And well done for being outspoken enough to say it as I daresay I wouldn’t have!

  2. Wow really makes you think. I have a friend who lost her husband to MND and remember seeing his slow painful degeneration and the strain and anguish she went through. We need to find a cure or a prevention to this horrible, horrible disease.

    • It does and certainly the challenge has raised awareness for this cause, which is fantastic. However, it seems for some people, dumping water on your head had become synonymous with making a donation to any charity. Other than raising awareness for charity in general, which I suppose isn’t a bad thing, I’m not entirely sure if it’s necessary.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s