ALS Challenge: A Lot More Than Ice Buckets and Videos

Yesterday, in broiling 100 degree heat in the Lou, I dragged my wife and kid outside to assist me in my Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS Foundation.  I did this without being nominated to do it. I wanted to contribute in some way and felt a need to spread the word. I donated money and threw an ice bucket on my head. Before I get into it, I want to tell you a little about ALS.

The disease, in case anyone wants to know, is Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. The world knows it as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”, because the famous Yankee has his life cut short due to the horrible and debilitating condition. It attacks the nerve cells that run to your brain and spinal chord. Everything that makes your body go and move strongly is attacked by this disease. The body degenerates, muscles weaken and in the end, the body is completely paralyzed by the disease. Motor neurons send signals to your muscles to make them perform a movement and when those motor neurons are damaged and attacked by ALS, other things start to shut down.

The disease was named after the famous baseball player but affects many people today. The disease is a variable one, meaning it moves in different courses with each patient. Someone may have a completely different experience than another person afflicted with the condition. There is a clinically approved drug to attack ALS and others are currently in trials.

This is important to remember when you buy the ice, get a bucket and are busy putting together videos. Remember the reason you are doing it. It is helping raise money and awareness for a disease that needs all the attention it can possibly get. When movie stars dump ice on their heads and nominate other movie stars and politicians, they are doing it for a reason. They don’t need any extra attention. They are doing it to raise awareness. Sure, they could have cut a check and be done with it. Then there is Vin Diesel in a tank top throwing down a steel barrel of ice water on his head and nominating Vladimir Putin and President Barack Obama. Diesel is using his millions of followers and fans to join him in this fight.

When Steven Spielberg, Derek Jeter and other celebs do it, they are using the unbeatable power of their reputation and celebrity to teach people about this disease. Many people have no idea prior to this year what ALS is and only know it as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. They remember the famous speech Gehrig gave and that it was pretty cool. That’s about it. In taking this challenge, the idea is to learn about the disease, donate cash(whatever it is will help) and spread awareness with the video you share. People you know will see it and think that is great.

What people don’t know about Gehrig is how bad the disease took hold of his once athletic and baseball efficient body. The man was built to hit doubles, fire baseballs across the field and run like mad. In his final days, for a photo that showed him in his study, the disease had gotten so bad that someone had to hold his head up and put the pencil in his hand before the picture could be snapped. That is what The ALS Foundation is dealing with.

So I donated cash yesterday morning and went outside around 5 pm. It was hot. Real hot. My son Vincent got in on the action and eventually dumped a bucket of water on his head. I wanted to say all of this in the video but I didn’t want to wear anyone out with my face for more than a minute so I come here with the story and the video(posted below). I did this to do a good thing. In life, we get fleeting chances to do something a genuine good deed. You can open doors, help the elderly or flash a smile at someone who needs it, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a good deed. It’s a win-win situation. You get a bucket of ice water on your head to cool off, get to nominate a few people to do it and donate cash to a good cause.

Do me a favor. If you decide to do the challenge, go to the ALS Foundation website and find out why you are doing it. The ice thing is cool and fun, but the real deed is knowing why you are doing it. Don’t let it be a hollow activity. Make it mean something. So far, the donations have reached 80 million dollars.

Alright, I’m climbing down off my horse and walking away for a bit. Thanks for reading.



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