Ice bucket challenge fever is sweeping the country. People are dumping buckets of ice water over their heads in record numbers. There are those taking simple videos on their cell phone cameras or, like some celebrities, going all out for the challenge. It’s a fun thing to do but don’t forget what the ice bucket challenge is really about! Here are some important things to remember when accepting the ice bucket challenge.

1. It isn’t about you, it’s about ALS

The whole point of the ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. You may know it as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerves, the brain, and the spine. People who have ALS slowly lose motor function over time. It usually starts in their legs and hands and gradually works its way inward. There is no cure for ALS and it is eventually fatal. The sole intention of the ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness of ALS and to get people to donate to ALS research so they can find a cure. It’s not a fad that you’re doing for fun. It’s a cause that you’re being a part of. When Charlie Sheen is a shining example of what to do and Hugh Jackman isn’t, you know something isn’t right.

2. When you take the ice bucket challenge, you’re supposed to donate to charity

ice bucket challenge
Perhaps the worst part of the ALS ice bucket challenge are people who do it and don’t donate. What’s the point of dumping a bucket of water on your head and nominating other people to do it if you’re not giving to the cause? It’s kind of like going to a fundraiser, eating all the food, and then leaving without raising any funds. It’s a cop out. A fundraising endeavor that goes viral like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a serious disease to get some serious funding. Don’t wimp out on donating because you’re a cheapskate. You’ll make back that $25 on your next paycheck. If you’re doing the ice bucket challenge and you’re not donating, you’re doing it wrong. To donate, click here.

3. You are spreading the word of a cause

If you did your ice bucket challenge without mentioning ALS’ official donate site, ALS in general, or anything regarding those two things, you have failed the challenge. The whole point of the ice bucket challenge is to raise awareness and donate money to a good cause. If you fail to raise awareness and you don’t tell people where to donate, have you actually done anything helpful? No, you haven’t. That’s why if you don’t have this link and a short explanation right alongside your ice bucket challenge, you have failed the challenge. In this video Yahoo Sports’ Puck Daddy blog editor in chief Greg Wyshynski has a near flawless ice bucket challenge video. He donates, he brings awareness, he has some fun doing it, and at the end, he posts the website where people can go to donate.

4. Don’t judge the challenge by the people who are doing it wrong

Even if people don’t ignore ALS and don’t forget to donate money, there is still the problem of people forgetting that this is a charity event. It’s not a fad, like the cinnamon challenge. It’s not a viral trend like #throwbackthursday or #caturday. This is supposed to be helping people. Like all large events that a lot of people are allowed to participate in, there are some bad eggs that are trying to ruin the whole bunch. The whole thing has had a surprising number of people spouting negative things about the ice bucket challenge because they are only exposed to people doing it the wrong way. That’s unfair to ALS and to the ice bucket challenge. If you don’t like it, you should seek out people who are doing it right and see that this is meant to be nothing more than a charity event to raise money for a terrible disease.

In short, people not mentioning ALS, donations, or any of that jazz does not signify a failure of the ice bucket challenge. It signifies a failure of those people to not understand or communicate the point.

5. The math says that it works

At the last count, there have been over $80 million in donations to ALS research. That’s up from just under $2 million last year. That is a significant growth of over 4000% and that figure grows every day. Yes, there are some people who just don’t get the ice bucket challenge and yes there are idiot celebrities who don’t mention anything about ALS or donating money. However, the overall numbers don’t lie. The ice bucket challenge is a force for good.

6. Remember that there are also other charities

ice bucket challenge
Rich and famous people shouldn’t have to pour water over their heads to get people to donate to charity. ALS is a problem that’s not going away any time soon so any time you can donate a few bucks is good. There are other charities for other diseases, humanitarian efforts, educational efforts, and practically any other cause you can think of. Those charities need money too and they don’t have the benefit of a viral charity event like the ice bucket challenge. If you go donate money to ALS, take some time and find another charity and donate to that charity, too. We have the capacity to be better people. Or if you’d rather stick to ALS, sign in every now and then and donate a few more bucks. More than $80 million is impressive but it likely won’t be enough. They’ll need more to kill off this disease eventually.

7. It’s all in good fun

Last and certainly not least is that this is supposed to be informative and fun. I know the last several paragraphs seem like it’s this huge, serious deal. The truth is that ALS is a serious deal. People who are diagnosed with that disease know exactly how they’re going to die and they have a rough estimate on when. That’s how serious it is. That said, you should have fun with the ice bucket challenge. Something like this requires enthusiasm and you really are helping out a good cause (assuming you’re following the advice posted above). That’s something that should make you feel good when you hit that donate button and post your ice bucket challenge video.

The big thing people hate about the ice bucket challenge is that many people don’t see the ice bucket challenge as being helpful or important. Like I stated earlier, this weird, viral charity event has raised over six times the amount of the funding ALS received last year and that’s what is most important here. If you get nominated, remember the important information listed above, have fun, and don’t forget to donate! If you want to donate, that link again is http://www.alsa.org/donate/

Featured photo credit: Hot Gossip Italia via flickr.com

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