The ice is melting

The ice is melting

Pete Frates was once the captain of the Boston College baseball team. Standing 6’2” and weighing in at 220 pounds, he was quite an intimidating force. Today, he sits, paralyzed, in his wheelchair, unable to speak, eat, let alone throw a baseball. He was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2012, and even so, he sits with a smile from ear to ear.

He smiles because he has made a difference in the lives of so many. Pete Frates is the reason that millions have doused themselves and promptly screamed at the freezing water. Pete Frates is the man who started the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

ALS is a disease that progressively degenerates nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When the motor neurons that stretch from the brain to the spinal cord die, the brain no longer has the ability to control the muscles. Eventually this leads to the death of someone with ALS.

Frates’ challenge was started as a way to raise awareness and money for ALS, and it has been incredibly successful. According to Forbes, it has raised over $100 million in a month as of yesterday morning. That’s just a little bit more than the $2.5 million raised during all of 2013. That is a 3,500% increase, for anyone who’s wondering. It has also brought this disease to the attention of millions of people, with those donations coming from both repeat donors and over 2.1 first time donors.

However, I think that with the success from awareness, it has also become too much of a Polar Plunge.

What I mean is that I’ve found that people have started to treat it as simply a social trend. I’ve seen ice-bucket videos that don’t even mention ALS, as well as articles all over the internet talking about “Ice Bucket Challenge Fails” and even “21 Reasons Why The Ice Bucket Challenge Needs To End Right Now.”

BuzzFeed seems especially keen on male celebrities completing the ice bucket challenge, especially when those celebrities are shirtless. If you take notice of the compiled pictures of BuzzFeed titles (and there are more than pictured), only one of the titles mentions ALS, and it focuses on Matthew Lewis doing the challenge shirtless. This sexualization of the Ice Bucket Challenge is far from the original intent, and is drawing people’s attention away from the cause most likely for the sake of views.

I have completed the challenge, and I hate to say that I was one of those people. I tried to make mine funny and entertaining, and I had to go back and edit in another take talking about ALS. It was at this moment that my eyes were opened to the fact that the challenge had become very socially oriented, with people trying to one-up each other.

Please, please, please, please do not think that I am in any way saying that the Ice Bucket Challenge is a bad thing. It has been remarkably successful and has far surpassed any expectations or goals set for it. But I urge you, don’t be another victim to the dilution of this incredible idea.

Think of the cause. Think of the people who suffer from ALS that you’re helping. Think of how this has shown the true power of social media’s abilities to help people.

And then do me a favor, and help make Pete Frates’ smile just a little wider.