Everywhere you turn these days, it seems like a celebrity, from Bill Gates to Pete Carroll, is dumping an ice bucket on their head.
The Ice Bucket Challenge began exploding across the Internet late last month when a former Boston college baseball player with ALS posted a video online challenging others to dump a bucket of ice water over their head or donate money to fighting the disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s.
It’s been a boon for the ALS Association in Seattle and across the country, says Becky Moore, Executive Director with the Evergreen Chapter of the ALS Association.
Between July 29 and August 12, The ALS Association and its 38 chapters have received an estimated $4 million in donations compared to $1.12 million during the same time period last year. Moore says the figure could break $10 million.
“Every research dollar is valued and every dollar is support we can offer families,” she says.
The campaign is also generating significant awareness for the relatively little known condition, Moore says.
“Prior to this last two weeks, nobody had heard of ALS, really. Everybody now is talking about ALS and finding out more about how it impacts people and how there is no cure and treatment and how much support families need when they go through it.”
But with anything that gets so popular comes the inevitable backlash.
Will Oremus, senior technology writer at Slate, is raising eyebrows with a column calling for people to stop with all the videos and “just donate the damn money, whether to the ALS Association or to some other charity of your choice.”
“As for “raising awareness,” few of the videos I’ve seen contain any substantive information about the disease, why the money is needed, or how it will be used,” he writes. “More than anything else, the ice bucket videos feel like an exercise in raising awareness of one’s own zaniness, altruism, and/or attractiveness in a wet T-shirt.”
But KIRO Radio’s John Curley disagrees. After initially siding with Oremus and considering the challenge an empty stunt, Curley says he’s been impressed with the amount of money raised for ALS.
“I’m a huge supporter of ALS, so I’m all for it,” Curley says.
But he predicts the challenge will quickly wane.
“It’s like a pyramid scheme. As soon as the celebrities run out of other big names to challenge, it’s over.”
Curley says Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg almost killed it when he challenged Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Neflix CEO Reed Hastings, along with Bill Gates.
“Aside from Gates, no one’s heard of Sandberg or Hastings outside of Silicon Valley. A few more of those and this thing is over,” Curley says.
As for Oremus’ argument people should simply cut a check and stop with the videos, Curley and guest host Feliks Banel strongly disagree.
“He’s never worked for a nonprofit before,” Banel says. “He doesn’t have to try to figure out new ways to convince people to donate their money to the millions of charities you can choose from. If this generates some attention from people who haven’t given specifically to ALS before, great.”
Curley has yet to accept fellow KIRO host Jason Rantz’s ice bucket challenge, in large part because he wants to do it naked and no one here wants to videotape it. Stay tuned for updates…