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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: Not just an internet fad

COLUMN

It’s everywhere. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Even on the 6 p.m. news. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has become a sensation, and although it may be funny to see friends freak out after dumping a bucket of ice water on their heads, the cause of the challenge is not funny.

ALS stands for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, but it is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Lou Gehrig was known as “The Iron Horse of Baseball.” For 17 seasons, Gehrig was first baseman on the New York Yankees and he never missed a game. Once he retired, his number was retired as well. In 1938, Gehrig’s strength, speed and stamina slowed down so much that he knew something was wrong and went to the doctor. The illness was so rare that at first that the doctors did not understand what was wrong. Gehrig left the game a year later after his teammates had congratulated this incredible athlete on a simple play. Gehrig knew then that he was washed-up. On May 2, 1939, Gehrig’s 2,130-game streak ended. Three years later, in 1941, Gehrig died from ALS.

Today, more than 30,000 Americans have been diagnosed with this disease.

ALS affects nerve cells in the brainstem and spinal cord. Motor neurons travel from the brain, to the spinal cord and to every muscle in the body, ALS degenerates these motor neurons to the point where ALS patients become completely paralyzed.

Some people want the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to end, others think it’s like the Cinnamon Challenge — an internet fad. In reality, it is to raise awareness about this horrible disease. Some people may not understand the seriousness of this challenge and may treat it as a trend, but it is much more than that.

People say, “You have 25 hours to complete the challenge or you have to donate $100 to the ALS Foundation.” To me, this gives a very negative twist to the challenge: do the challenge, keep $100. However, this challenge unites people. Many who do the challenge also give to the ALS Association, the only national non-profit organization that helps fight ALS. I donated, and thousands of others have donated as well.

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