Challenge changes mind

By Carley Thieret|Opinions Editor

The ALS ice bucket challenge. You’ve all seen friends, family and even celebrities dump water onto their heads and challenge others to join in or opt out by donating to the unknown acronym, ALS. But what are these people doing and why are they really pouring gallons of water on themselves?
You may be thinking, the ALS ice bucket challenge is a way to boost other’s social ego on Facebook or Instagram. You may think it’s a waste of time or a way to embarrass friends. If you care so much about the cause, why don’t you just donate?

I also criticized the media campaign and mocked it to my friends, threatening to delete my Facebook if another ice bucket video popped up on my newsfeed. However, the more I researched the disease, the organization and the challenge itself, I found myself having a change of heart.I will claim ignorance here, so don’t judge me, but for the first week or so that these videos started popping up on my newsfeed I didn’t even know what ALS was. Formally known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS is also known by many as Lou Gehrig’s disease. When I heard this, it somewhat rang a bell, but I was still unsure of the symptoms and severity of the disease. The ongoing question still lingered in my mind:why are so many people dumping ice on their head?

As I scoured the Internet for more information on ALS, I not only found valuable information about the disease, but also some pretty entertaining ice bucket challenge videos. This got me thinking about our culture and society today and how cynical we can be about life in general. The more I watched ice bucket videos, saw the fun that people were having and also the money that was being donated the less I began to criticize the challenge.
Nervous to do the ALS bucket challenge? Worried about the chill of the ice against your muscles? Well nerves and muscles are the two things that ALS disorder affects. According to the ALS foundation, the average age of those diagnosed is 55. Most people develop the disease between the ages of 40 and 70. We hear the phrase, “support our troops” thrown around often. By doing the ALS bucket challenge, we are also supporting some veterans. According to ALS Foundation research, war veterans are twice as likely to develop ALS.

We are always going to find faults in things that are going on in the world around us, so why not find the good in them instead? Although not every person that dumps ice on their head donates to the cause there are many that do both. As of Aug. 24, the ALS Association has received $70.2 million in donations. According to media relations coordinator Carrie Munk, the ALS ice bucket challenge began on July 29, 2014. During this same time period in 2013, ALS received $2.5 million dollars in donations, a staggering 68 million difference since the challenge began. For those who chose to donate in addition to raising awareness, all donations go to research, as well as support for those who suffer from ALS and their families.

Many naysayers think that people pouring ice on themselves is an attention stunt, but seeing things through a new lens by looking at the attention it has brought ALS and those affected by it should be the message this challenge sends. If nothing else this challenge is in fact raising awareness. Yes, the attention is on the people who dump ice on their heads, but that is only for the duration of a minute long video. The impact that the awareness and also the monetary donations has on the people suffering from this disease will last an eternity.
We always say, “Oh I would love to have time to volunteer here but the to-do list of our daily lives is endless.” The ice bucket challenge is not only easy but also humorous.

There will always be faults and criticism, but I have learned to see the difference a small act can make. Instead of criticizing, we can join in and contribute to those who will be eternally grateful for the impact that a simple bucket of water and a small donation had on their life.

Through this change of heart, I nominate all of Duquesne University, my best friend, Paige Tinney, and my brother, Rob Thieret, to take challenge with as well.

Carley Thieret is a junior advertising major and can be reached at