For the last few weeks the internet has been captivated by the Ice Bucket Challenge. The meme is so pervasive that it really doesn't require any further explanation, but the recent connection to ALS has quite simply made an already viral experience explode into the stratosphere. I have read many recent posts as to why the entire experience is frivolous, irritating, self-serving, and just plain stupid. I am choosing not to link to these articles because frankly, I am jealous that I didn't think of it first.
Why, you may ask?
I wish that I or any member of my family had come up with such a brilliant marketing ploy that could have possibly raised untold millions for an orphan disease that is afflicting one of our own.
Last November I wrote about my father-in-law's struggles against the insidious neuromuscular condition called PSP. PSP is truly a disease with little publicity and even fewer advocates. There is no known treatment and no known cure. His fight against PSP somewhat mirrors those who have had to endure the misery that is ALS, as he too is a prisoner in his own body with a mind that is still fully functioning. It is a nightmare to witness a loved one deteriorate before your eyes, knowing that you are absolutely powerless to stop it.
Like ALS, PSP researchers struggle mightily for funding as it isn't a "sexy" disease with a high profile celebrity spokesperson. So when a couple of wise people figured out that they could raise a bit of cash for a very worthwhile cause by tying into a previously infantile internet stunt, I had my V8 moment. Why didn't I think of that?
Last year during this same time period, ALS raised a little more than $1.9M. As of yesterday they were close to $16M. I can't think of a better reason to dump ice water on my head. And for those of you criticizing self-involved celebrities for dunking, do you honestly believe that all that cash came from people who refused to be doused? The majority have been doing both. So what if they stroke their egos a bit in the process? If I could raise that kind of cash for PSP, I would sit all day in a dunk tank filled with ice. And you all know how I feel about being cold.
Yes. The Ice Bucket Challenge is juvenile and yes, it probably will peter out like any good internet meme fairly soon, but the ALS foundations are a bit further ahead today as a result of the childishness and frivolity. Until you have walked a mile in those patients' and their families' shoes, maybe criticism of a worthy endeavour might not be the best use of your time. Remember that the next time you buy a pink ribbon or a daffodil.
Note: You can donate to help fight PSP at http://www.psp.org or to help fight ALS at http://www.als.ca