August 26, 2014 by Melissa Ray
Over the past few weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge has become a worldwide craze, starting in the US and then spreading internationally, with a whole host of celebrities (including actors, singers, TV presenters, supermodels, athletes, politicians, founders of mega-corporations and world leaders) joining the phenomenon by posting videos of themselves being drenched in icy water to increase awareness of the disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
ALS is the most common type of motor neurone disease (MND), and is associated with the progressive degeneration of motor neurones, leading to increasing muscle paralysis and atrophy. The cause of ALS is unknown, but genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors are thought to contribute to disease development. ALS is currently incurable and fatal. Existing treatments are able only to relieve the symptoms of the disease and improve the quality of life of a patient. The average life expectancy of a patient with ALS is 2 to 5 years.
The rules of the Ice Bucket Challenge are simple. A participant has 24 hours from being nominated to film their challenge, in which an icy bucket of water (or several) is poured over their head and body. The participant then nominates others to perform the challenge and makes a donation to an ALS charity. Anyone who fails to accept the challenge is expected to donate $100 to an ALS charity.
Some of the videos produced have been hugely entertaining. My particular favourites were the dignified and mute contributions of Sir Patrick Stewart and Lady Gaga, as well as 50 Cent’s hilarious dig at Floyd Mayweather, before tossing the contents of his ice bucket from the balcony of his mansion. Some well-known Muay Thai fighters have also got in on the act, including Thai superstars Saenchai and Buakaw.
There’s no doubting the ice bucket campaign has been incredibly successful. The latest update on the ALS Association website states that the current donation total stands at $79.7 million (during the same period last year the donation total was $2.5 million).
However, the Ice Bucket Challenge has also received criticism because a large proportion of the videos posted on social media seem to have missed the purpose of the challenge by neglecting to mention ALS or a charity donation. The campaign has also received negative comments because of the wastage of water.
Yesterday I received my nomination to participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge by my good friend Jesse Ganning, who I’ve known since my early days training Muay Thai in the Northeast of England in 2001. However, I’m currently suffering from a rainy season cold and not wild at the prospect of being drenched in iced water, so regret to inform that I’m wussing out! Instead, I made a donation to the Motor Neurone Disease Association, a UK-based MND charity, and forfeit any nominations.
Is it miserable of me to not join in the ice-water fun? Well, maybe. But maybe by writing this post I still help to increase awareness of ALS and MND charities, more so than if I had posted yet another ice bucket video.
Don’t forget to donate, people (click on the icons below).