Ice bucket challenge raises awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

Erin Lungwitz, Staff writer



Lou Gehrig was known as the “Iron Horse”. He played 2,130 consecutive baseball games for the Yankees beginning in 1923, regardless of broken fingers and toes until 1939 when his streak ended. Lou’s record wasn’t beaten until 1995.Gehrig won the most valuable player award in 1927, and led the Yankees to seven World Series victories.

After Lou’s performance on the field inexplicably declined in 1939, he went to the doctor and was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Lou could no longer play baseball, and his number was retired (the first jersey to be retired in Major League Baseball). Lou Gehrig gave a famous farewell speech, as seen below:

In 1941 Lou passed away at the hands of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), now known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a disease that currently affects approximately 30,000 U.S. citizens.  ALS causes motor neurons–messages from the brain and spinal cord to muscles– to die. As motor neurons die, muscles die as well resulting in paralysis, the inability to speak, and eventually death (80% of people die within five years of diagnosis). While the muscles in the body die, the brain remains sharp.

As of now, ALS is incurable and deadly.

In 2012, 73 years after Lou Gehrig was diagnosed with ALS, Pete Frates, a baseball player for Boston College, was diagnosed with ALS. Five years prior to Pete’s diagnosis, he was team captain for his baseball team. Pete is now paralyzed and receiving nutrients through a feeding tube, however his mind remains bright.

As Pete’s health began to decline, he got word of the ice bucket challenge; a challenge where people dump a bucket of ice on their heads in honor of their favorite charity, and so he challenged some of his friends through Facebook to do the ice bucket challenge in honor of ALS. The  ALS ice bucket challenge went viral.

The rules of the ice bucket challenge are as follows: If you are nominated for the ice bucket challenge you have to dump a bucket of ice water on your head, and post your reaction to social media. You must complete the challenge in 24 hours or less, or you have to donate $100 to the ALS foundation. Many people end up donating as well as completing the challenge. After you complete the challenge you must nominate at least three more people to complete it.

The ALS Foundation said that they have received over $13,000,000 since the challenge went viral in late July.

Athletes, celebrities, families, teams (including the Ann Richard’s Varsity Volleyball Team) and friends all over the world have been completing the ice bucket challenge to raise awareness and money for ALS. To donate money to ALS research click here. Below are some examples of people completing the ice bucket challenge: